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  1. Some time after the All-Star break, I was pondering how the Twins could fit all of their quality major league position players on the active roster. A few weeks later, baseball immortals Mark Contreras and Caleb Hamilton were on the big club. Fast forward to a crucial five-game series in Cleveland and the Twins were starting Bailey Ober, Josh Winder (both coming off injuries) and having Louie Varland make his second major league start and Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino were considered regular starters. The season unraveled quickly and now the Twins look likely to finish below .500 and in third place in the weak AL Central. How did it happen? I have several answers--there have been enduring issues all year exacerbated by a rash of injuries, most of them season-ending. Offense underperformed almost all year. Going back to the start of the season, after a rocky first couple of weeks, the Twins offense was sufficient to win a lot of game despite never scoring runs commensurate with their underlying numbers. Right now, the Twins are 18th in runs scored despite being 11th in OPS and 12th in homers. They have often been futile with runners in scoring position and they have been a terrible running bases as a team. I have seen many posters state that the team is terrible at fundamentals. I would submit that all teams draw their fans ire for not advancing runners and "beating the shift". Part of these problems is the way the Twins are built. They lack team speed and their is a lot of swing and miss in their collective game. With the changes made to limit homers, the Twins (IMHO) have suffered disproportionately. Pitching regressed after overperforming early. The Twins seized first place in late April and held on to the top spot for most of the season bolstered by a pitching staff that performed better than expected. Despite seemingly having at least one and usually two or more guys in their rotation that were locks to go no more than five innings, they won a lot of games and obvious weaknesses at the back end of the bullpen were not evident in the win-loss record. Things unraveled here in slow motion. The failure of anyone but Jhoan Duran in late innings cost games (particularly to Cleveland). The extra innings assigned to the bullpen showed the lack of depth that so many short starts demanded. Back to statistics--the Twins currently are right in the middle of total runs allowed stats. Underlying stats (WHIP, Opponents BA and OPS and BB and K numbers) come out slightly below the mean. I think team defense has been slightly better than average, which has helped keep runs allowed acceptable. Injuries (oh my!). The Twins lead the AL in total man-games on the Injured List. They went into the season with one player slated to miss time, so it isn't like there were a bunch of players already on the IL. Some of the injuries could be expected and put on the front office. The Twins obtained several pitchers with injury issues and this season have come up snake eyes with most of them missing significant time. There have been plenty of position player injuries as well. Regular players Ryan Jeffers, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler have all missed significant portions of the season. Carlos Correa also missed over 20 games with COVID and a badly bruised finger. We all know Buxton hasn't made it through a season without spending time on the IL. The other guys would figure to be healthier than they have this year. Dick Bremer characterized the Twins as developing a "slow leak" from June through August. The leak has been accelerated in the month of September and injuries are a factor in that. That said, even without the injuries, the Twins' flaws probably were too big to win the division. The club exhausted their depth and seeing Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Caleb Hamilton, Sandy Leon, Aaron Sanchez, and (second half) Devin Smeltzer "perform" in key situations just shows that the Twins have scraped bottom. I think some roster turnover is necessary. Among the position players, they need more guys who make contact, are better base runners and who have more speed. They need more left-right balance in corner outfielders. The front office needs to adjust their focus and bring in more durable players. It should be noted that the position players they brought in (Urshela, Sanchez and Correa) have been basically healthy. The problem has been with the pitchers. I think there is too much talent to tear it down. If the club fails to compete next year, it is probably time to try something else, starting at the top. It won't be easy to win the Central next year, but there needs to be significant progress and better health.
  2. It is official, Byron Buxton has a "boxer's fracture" of his left hand. He will miss weeks recovering from his latest injury. It just never seems to end for the ultra-talented center fielder. If it isn't his legs, then it's his shoulder, if it isn't his shoulder, then it is his head (concussions). I feel terrible for the player and feel some disappointment for the organization. A wonderful talent who just can't seem to stay on the field. Time is drawing short for Buxton to perform for the Twins. Assuming he is out until after the All-Star break, he might be able to play 60 more games this season. He will almost certainly be either a free agent or traded before he reaches free agency and he is such a risk that it is unlikely that the middle-market Twins will make legitimate offers to keep him. ing time. So that will be a silver lining. Whatever fleeting hopes of returning to contention depend on the Twins winning lots of games against their Central Division opponents in the next few weeks and now it appears that they won't have their best and most exciting player. Someone will get more opportunities. I presume Nick Gordon will get some time in center field as will Max Kepler and the two left hitting rookies (Larnach and Kirilloff) will get plenty of play
  3. Nick Nelson's excellent look at Byron Buxton and his injuries made me think about who would be a counterpart to him and his career so far and Pete Reiser immediately came to mind. Called Pistol Pete long before Pete Marinovich, he was a sensation. Read this paragraph from his Wikipedia Page - "In 1941, his first season as a regular starter, Reiser helped the Dodgers win the pennant for the first time since 1920. He was a sensation that year, winning the National League batting title while leading the league in doubles, triples, runs scored and slugging percentage. He was also named a starter to the All-Star team and placed second in MVP balloting. On July 19 of the following year, Reiser crashed face-first into the outfield wall in St. Louis, trying to catch what turned out to be a game-winning inside-the-park home run by Enos Slaughter of the rival Cardinals in the bottom of the 11th inning. The loss cut the Dodgers' lead over the Cardinals to six games." Reiser missed only 4 games with his concussion - we are better at recognizing the effect today - and he only batted 244 for the rest of the season dropping his average to 310. Now to continue the comparison - here is another excerpt from Wiki -- "Reiser gave great effort on every play in the field, and was therefore very injury-prone. He fractured his skull running into an outfield wall on one occasion (but still made the throw back to the infield), was temporarily paralyzed on another, and was taken off the field on a stretcher a record 11 times." Eleven times! Can you imagine. Today Nick gave us Buxton's injuries from the last two years. April 18, 2018: Placed on DL due to migraines May 20, 2018: Placed on DL due to fracture in left toe (suffered on foul ball during rehab stint) July 14, 2018: Placed on DL at AAA due to left wrist strain (suffered swinging the bat) August 1, 2018: Placed on DL at AAA due to lingering issues with left wrist June 18, 2019: Placed on IL due to right wrist contusion (suffered on HBP) July 16, 2019: Placed on IL due to concussion-like symptoms (suffered on impact with ground on diving catch) August 3, 2019: Placed on IL due to left shoulder subluxation (suffered in collision with OF wall) Pete could not change and neither can Byron. They have to play their own style. Even if destruction. Reiser went into the military in WWII and injured his should while playing army ball. He had to give up batting switch handed and he had to learn to throw with his opposite arm, but he came back! SABR describes this - "Once he was chasing a fly ball and burrowed right through the thick hedge that formed the outfield wall—and down a ten-foot drainage ditch on the opposite side. He separated his shoulder and couldn’t throw. So he simply switched to a right-handed glove and threw with his left arm, as he had in Elmira in 1939." He later said: "It wasn't as serious as the head injuries, but it did more to end my career. The shoulder kept popping out of place, more bone chips developed, and there was constant pain in the arm and shoulder." How good was he? SABR says "At fifteen, Reiser sneaked into a St. Louis Cardinals tryout, where he out-threw and outran more than 800 other boys. He was disappointed when he returned home without a contract, but later a Cardinals scout, Charlie Barrett, visited the Reiser home and explained why they hadn't made a big deal about Pete at Sportsman’s Park. The Cardinals didn't want word leaking out to the Browns, with whom they shared the ballpark, or anyone else. The scout also admitted they’d had their eye on him since grade school. The Cardinals knew Pete wasn’t old enough to sign to a contract, so they got permission from George Reiser to hire the boy as a “chauffeur.”" Now we hear a lot about Byron and how he should slow down, let balls go, but perhaps the ending of the SABR article should be heard. "by the early 1950s most teams had either installed warning tracks or at least planned to, and some stadiums were also starting to pad their walls. The first padded wall at Ebbets Field was made of cork. Given how hard Reiser hit that wall, it is doubtful anything other than modern foam cushioning would have saved him. "Alas, in the heat of the moment, Pete Reiser just never could pull up and play it off the wall. Every fly ball was his to catch, and catch them all he would—or kill himself trying." Byron is not Byron if he fails to chase the ball and make a full effort. We just have to hope the Twins find more padding and luck goes his way. Here are some more big leaguers who suffered from injury filled careers - some very good players. Bob Grim - injures took his career after a rookie 20 win season with the Yankees BO Jackson - played in NFL and MLB and was a real treat till a hip injury in NFL Herb Score was a star pitcher until Gil McDougal hit a line drive to Score's head. Mauer and Morneau taught us about concussion. Sandy Koufax had arthritis and elbow injuries and played with pain as long as he could Alan Trammel missed a seasons worth of games to injuries during his 20 year career. J R Richards was striking out batters when Ks were not common and was cut down by a stroke. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior - just think what the cubs would have been if injuries had not ruined their careers. Mark Fydrich had only one year to make his significant mark on baseball You can not legislate injuries. No rules can eliminate the dangers for men who are taught to always play hard. We just have to hope Byron is lucky and that he keeps impressing us with his speed and determination.
  4. I had to share this quote from Sid Hartman's column since I too have a concern about Buxton and his ability to be on the field. We really miss him right now and I would love to see him play 150 games a year for us, but injuries take a toll. I have no solution for him, I love his all out style, but other than a bubble wrap uniform I cannot see him as a long term player. I have had a life of outdoor adventure and the cumulative injuries I have had are all calling on my in my old age. In five years he has only played more than 100 games once. This year he is at 75 as I right this at the 95 game mark so he could do it yet, but after each injury there is a restart process. Hopefully someone can tally the injury total for me. From the Hartman column: "The big concern for the Twins and their front office is that injuries are becoming a trend for Buxton. Yes one of the great statements about sports was made by former Vikings coach Bud Grant. He always said, “Durability trumps ability.” Meaning that Grant would always want a player who was on the field over a talented player who missed a lot of games."
  5. With the announcement that Nelson Cruz suffered a wrist injury yesterday, my immediate thought was who would replace him in the lineup and on the roster if he had to go on the injured list. It would appear to me that the answer is the much-discussed Miguel Sanó, who is on his third and last stop in his rehab program. Much has been written about Sanó. I wish to confine this discussion to the ballplayer between the lines. The other stuff has been beaten to death IMHO. What will the Twins get when a healthy Sanó is on the active roster? Sanó came up to the big leagues with much hype in 2015. He was going to be the power hitter the Twins hadn't had since Harmon Killebrew. Another comparison, because of size, was Frank Thomas. Sanó's rookie year was excellent. Despite being called up only at midseason, he was a contender for Rookie-of-the-Year. His traditional state line--.269 BA, 18 homers, 52 RBI was very good. Double the homers and RBIs for a full season, and there is a perennial All-Star, future Hall of Famer. Plus, he was only 22 years of age. A deeper look at his rookie stats was probably even more encouraging, while Miguel struck out over 100 times (in a half season), he also walked more than 50 times, giving him a solid OBP of .385. His OPS was a stellar .916 which yielded an OPS+ of 149. After a minor injury, Miguel only played 11 games in the field, so we couldn't be sure about his defense. For his superior half-season of work, Miguel Sanó was voted the Twins' Player of the Year. 2016 started with Sanó installed as the new right fielder. He was never competent or comfortable there and it seemed to affect his hitting. After a month and a half of futility in right field, Miguel moved back to third to demonstrate a rocket arm, but less-than-soft hands. His metrics at third came in below average, but at least he could hit. Well, the hitting didn't go as well either. Sanó ended up playing in 116 game, having an OPS of .781 with 19 homers and 51 RBI as the Twins flailed and failed and lost over 100 games. Sanó missed over 30 games due to injuries. Again, a deeper look into Sanó's numbers is a mixed bag. In 160 additional plate appearances, Sanó only hit one more homer than 2015, his walk rate plummeted while his strikeout rate stayed basically steady. The batting average ended at .236 and his OBP fell to.319. Sanó was a deserved All-Star in 2017. He came to camp as the third baseman, healthy and came out of the gate on fire. His first-half stats were outstanding--.276, 21 homers, 62 RBI and his defense at third was satisfactory. The strikeout rate remained about the same (35%), but he also walked 44 times, a big improvement over 2016 and the OBP was .368 at the break. Since the 2017 All-Star break, Miguel Sanó hasn't been very good. The combined numbers from the second half of '17 and 2018 are .211 BA, 20 homers, 56 RBI. OBP at .292, slugging .408, with an OPS of .700. The walk rate is below 10% and the strikeout rate is 38%. These are not future Hall-of-Fame numbers. They aren't even starter numbers. In addition, according to metrics (and my eyes) Sanó remains a below-average third baseman, despite a plus-plus arm. To summarize this rather elongated prologue, Sanó's on-field performance has been a roller coaster. He started looking like one of the brightest stars, faded, came back to that level again and faded again. Does this up-and-down have to do with injuries? Certainly. The point here is to suggest that the Twins shouldn't be counting on Sanófor too much. Expectations of another Frank Thomas or Miguel Cabrera should be tempered by now. I think they should expect more than they gotten since the All-Star break of 2017. They should get more than Mark Reynolds-like production. If the strikeouts keep coming and the homers are too infrequent, he can still be optioned. This club looks like at least a contender for postseason. If that is the case, they shouldn't be playing guys based on potential or upside. Miguel Sanó is at a crossroads in his career (in my opinion). He soon will have a chance to step on stage with a good team and help them make postseason, and maybe have success there. He's now 26 and shouldn't be judged on what he might do, he should be judged by how he is actually performing on the field.As a Twins fan and a baseball fan, I hope he can find his earlier success. As someone who has seen a lot of hyped players come and go, I am a bit skeptical.
  6. I started out to explore Spring Training stories, but soon got caught up in a lot of the strange stories of baseball and had to share some of them. The stories are part of what makes baseball fun. Spring Training is about getting ready for the season, but that does not mean this collection of athletes can’t generate some stories that might cause you to scratch your head from Ryan Klesko straining his back picking up a lunch tray – what was he eating? To Wade Boggs getting hurt pulling up his boots. Nolan Ryan was bitten by a Coyote, and George Brett broke a toe watching baseball on TV! Baseball is filled with weird injuries and not all in the spring, but this is when is starts and we better hope for health both on and off the field. Former Twins have not been immune. Does anyone remember rookie of the year Marty Cordova who was traded after his Twins season and then was fried in a tanning bed in Baltimore in 2002! Strange accidents can happen anytime, yet spring is different. Jose Cardenal asked out of a game because crickets kept him awake all night. Steve Kent injured himself with falling off his motorcycle and then came up with the really goofy excuse that he got hurt washing his truck – that alone disqualifies him for the HOF. I know there have been some real tragedies – boating accidents, fans and players killed in vehicle accidents, but I would rather look at baseball’s lesser incidents – still accidents and injuries but not tragedies like the spring deaths in the 1800s when three died of consumption (TB). Somethings are just weird, like Phil Hughes keeping the rib removed for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Brian Flynn, then a Royals reliever was on the roof placing some roof panels on to protect his roof and then fell through – causing many injuries. And A J Burnett broke the orbital bone in his eye while bunting. Cecil Upshaw got stuck in an awning, after catching his ring in the fabric when he was dared to jump up and touch it. Former Texas Ranger Jeff Baker sprained his thumb in 2013 doing a High Five! Jerry Hairston got a good quote out of his goof up – "I wish I had a really good story," he told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, tripped on a bag and hit my head on a desk. I was hoping I was dreaming; I found out I wasn't. A lot of guys gave me grief. I guess my face has character. In the past month I wanted to pick a fight [suspended one game for his part in a brawl] and a desk finally beat me up." Marc Rzepczynski was injured in a Golf game when a ball ricocheted and hit him in the eye and Elvis Andrus had to sit out because of reactions he got from a tattoo! Our old friend Francisco Liriano lost his $13 million contract when he “broke his right humerus slamming his arm into a door on Christmas Day in an attempt to scare his children, who were in the next room.” He got a one million dollar contract with lots of incentives instead. Another former Twin Pitcher – Carl Pavano suffered a ruptured spleen from shoveling snow in Vermont in 2013. Also in 2013, current Twin – Lucas Duda broke his wrist in the off season moving furniture. This spring the Mets Brandon Nimmo was sidelined after eating under-cooked chicken! Did you know our own Martin Perez when he was with the Texans had his non-throwing elbow fractured when he was startled by a bull in Venezuela? He later said he killed and ate the bull. But spring has many surprises like Kevin Millar straining his nose in a particularly strong sneezing fit and Sammy Sosa in 2004 injuring his back from sneezing? If that sounds bad what about Joel Peralta injuring himself getting out of his Camaro to pick up sandwiches? Pittsburgh’s Corey Hart needed stitches from cutting his toe in a hot tub in spring training. Another former Twin in the weird injury category, Brian Duensing underwent surgery for an injured elbow when he was moving a bullpen chair that he was sitting on. HOF Rickey Henderson suffered frostbite after falling asleep with an icepack. And finally former Twins pitcher Joel Zumaya got an inflammation of the elbow in 2006 from playing the video game – Guitar Hero. We can add Sano to this list with his cut from celebrating his teams championship. And now he misses both the ST and the opening month. ""Yeah, it's a little frustrating, I would say," Sano said Thursday, via the Twins. "Because I worked really hard in the offseason to get to Spring Training in shape and ready to go, and now this happened. But it's just a setback and we'll get it going next week." Sano suffered a laceration on the back of his foot during a championship parade with his winter ball team in the Dominican Republic. One of his teammates slipped on a stage and bumped into Sano, who fell into metal stairs and suffered a cut that required 12 stitches." https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-sports/miguel-sano-frustrated-by-injury-keeping-him-out-of-spring-training-action 2019 "Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó will undergo surgery on Nov. 13 after suffering a stress reaction in his left shin in mid-August that never fully healed. He is expected to have a permanent titanium rod inserted into his left shin, and the surgery generally carries a six-to-eight week recovery period before a return to baseball activities" https://www.mlb.com/twins/news/miguel-sano-to-have-surgery-on-injured-shin-c260512716 2017 2013 - "The Minnesota Twins and their fans got they some bad early news in spring training. They were looking forward to top prospect Miguel Sano as he prepared for what might have been his rookie season in the majors. Instead of becoming the team's top story for his performance, Sano became the top story of the spring because of an elbow injury that will require season-ending Tommy John surgery. On Feb. 27, Sano felt some pain in his right elbow after making a throw across his body in the Twins' intrasquad game. The following day, he had an MRI that showed damage to the elbow. The result is Tommy John surgery for Sano and one of the biggest attractions at spring training shelved for the season." https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-xpm-2014-03-07-sns-rt-bbo-news-20130630-story.html "Minnesota Twins slugging prospect Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm and miss the 2014 season. The 20-year-old third baseman had been trying to rehabilitate a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was hurt in October while playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic." Why do we let him play winter ball? 2016 - ""Unless something happens where either we made a huge mistake in judgment, which I don't think is going to happen, or injuries hit us hard and we have to do some shuffling. But I would hope to avoid that," Molitor said. "Sometimes you've got to make changes according to how things go. Molitor said he's most concerned with Sano staying healthy, as there aren't many players with similar body types who have made the transition from infielder to outfielder." Of course not all spring training stories end up in the training room. Souhan recounts, “Paul Molitor arrived in the spring of 1996, listened to Puckett in the clubhouse for a day, then said: “I appreciated the quality of what Kirby has to say. I underestimated the quantity.” And finally you might enjoy Bill Becker’s memories of Tinker Field - https://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/baseball/os-ghosts-of-spring-tinker-0307-20100306-story.html
  7. Just read Bleacher reports grading for all the teams at this point in the year. Obviously after the trading period. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2789031-mlb-report-card-grades-for-all-30-teams-entering-august?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=mlb#slide4 "Minnesota Twins (49-57) If we pretended 2017 never happened, this season might feel like a moral victory for the Minnesota Twins. In 2016, Minnesota lost 103 games. In light of that, a sub-.500 second-place standing wouldn't sting too badly. The Twins vaulted past expectations in 2017, however, and grabbed the AL's second wild-card spot. As such, it's tough to view their injury-marred, regression-filled 2018 showing as anything less than a crash-to-Earth splash of ice-cold water. Grade: D" I tried to think about this as I do with my graduate courses - although those students are much easier to grade. So how do I think about a grade for the team - which is the entire team - players, Front Office, Management. Of course a world series position would make it easy to give them an A. But they need not have gone that far - they could have matched or just increased on last years performance and we would have had at least an A-. But they didn't. So what is next? In the B range we could have forgiven them for some set backs that they could not have anticipated - injuries, suspensions and if they came close to last year, if they had gotten to 500 it could be a B. If they had filled holes, had the players showing advances and given us a sense that things were in place if the missing returned I could have gone B. But they did not. It is hard to see that we are not suffering more than other teams, but the fact is other teams, good teams overcome the loss of Yu Darvish, Justin Turner, Aaron Judge...and they keep playing and keep winning. If the Front Office gave us a really good player out of Odorizzi, Lynn, Morrison, Rodney, Reed, Duke, Motter, LaMarre who looked like a piece to give us a shot at a run next year we could say that would be a C despite the record. But they did not. Maybe Cave will rise to be a super star. Or if all the players hit their marks from last year - Kepler, Buxton, Sano, Dozier we could feel pretty good, but Polanco and Rosario and Escobar and Berrios were the shining stars and the others fell far short. If we had a third catcher with some talent and promise for when Castro went down I would feel better, or if the manager did not fall in love with a hitless 35 year old back up catcher and play him more than the young guy who can hit and has promise I would like it. Or if we were not bringing out a 38 year old relief pitcher who averages a run an inning pitcher it would give me more confidence. In fact, if I were not seeing the fact that he does not let inherited runners score (very much) it would be fine, but the fact that he likes to let his own batters score does not help the team win. If the manager did not fall in love with the hot bullpen pitcher the way the NHL falls in love with the hot goal tender I would like it too. A pitcher cannot throw every night - alternate their appearances Paul. So put all this together and I am afraid there is no C here. I am afraid that I agree with Bleacher Report. This is a D. A "D" means that we all made it through the motions. We put a team on the field every day. Occasionally a good play or a good hit or a well pitched game will give us great joy, but too often we drift away before the game is over, we start to read about the other sports, maybe check out for a few days. In fact the D is a reflection of the fact that the trade deadline was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the summer game and now that it is over I guess I need to shift to the September call ups, although I would enjoy them more if we DFA'd deadwood and starting calling them up now. Okay, what would be an F? If in this Central Division we did not finish second in the standings. That would be an F.
  8. I had to stop reading the Buxton portion of the WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS article today because it sent my mind back through the history of Baseball. I was luck enough to be a kid when Dizzy Dean was announcing games and he always made me smile, but as I learned more and more about him and his amazing, but too short career I learned lessons that continue to plague me. One injury cannot be isolated from the rest of the body. When I am suffering from various injuries that were accumulated in a lifetime of adventures and guiding my wife will sing a versus from skeleton song - https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/childsongslyrics/dryboneslyrics.html to remind me that everything is connected. For Buxton to play with a broken toe is exactly what Dizzy Dean did and it killed his career. ]https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/tht-live/the-dizzy-dean-injury-cascade/[/url] When asked about the injury Dean said, "“Fractured. Hell, the damn thing’s broken!”" Dean's injury happened during the All-Star game - "Initially, most thought Lou Gehrig, not Earl Averill, delivered the most damaging shot against Dizzy Dean in the 1937 All-Star Game. It wasn’t until later in the summer that the impact of Averill’s low liner that ricocheted off the toe of the Cardinals ace began to be understood." "Dean returned to St. Louis and had the aching toe examined by Dr. Robert F. Hyland, the club physician. Hyland said the toe was bruised, not broken, and prescribed rest for Dean, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dean, who had a 12-7 record and 2.41 ERA, was scratched from his scheduled start July 11 versus the Reds. During his recuperation, Dean clipped a newspaper photo showing his bandaged foot, autographed it, inscribed “Thanks, Earl” and mailed it to Averill. Though Dean still was limping, Cardinals management instructed him to join the team in Boston. When he arrived, manager Frankie Frisch asked Dean whether he could pitch. Dean said he could. On July 21, two weeks after he was injured, Dean started against the Braves in Boston. He pitched eight innings and yielded two runs, but he altered his delivery to compensate for the pain in his toe. By throwing with an unnatural motion, Dean damaged his arm." https://retrosimba.com/2017/07/08/dizzy-dean-and-his-final-painful-cardinals-days/ Dean tried to continue pitching even though he was hurt - the worst thing he could do. Buxton is our future and he has a history of injuries, but looking at his build and the way he plays it is not surprising. Someone needs to help him make decisions because players will always play. In case we need reminding - here is a good site to look at 25 careers that were ended early by injuries. We might add the career altering of concussion to Mauer - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1022656-25-potentially-immortal-baseball-careers-derailed-by-injuries#slide5 We can also add the shortened career of Kirby Puckett, and the impact of bad knees on Tony Oliva, I know that I get caught up with critiquing players, but I also have to set back and realize that if they are injured and not playing it is frustrating them too.
  9. From the album: Resolutions

    This is no longer an option, Buxton and Sano, the future of the organization, have spent the last year in and out of doctor's offices. This year, they can resolve to keep the medical professionals closer to them, thereby avoiding costly delays before starting their recoveries. (Note: this is only a resolution because my other suggested resolution "wrapping themselves in bubble wrap" has already been taken by Kohl Stewart and JO Berrios.
  10. Joe Mauer is a former MVP and a three-time batting champion. As a catcher, he has won five Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. These are Hall of Fame credentials for a 31-year-old. Last year, Mauer was shut down after suffering a concussion. The symptoms were present until well into the offseason. Mauer and his advisors decided it was time to give up catching. With the exit of Justin Morneau, a move to first base was an easy call. I was among those that thought that Mauer would be able to play more games and provide more power as long as he abandoned catching. For the 2014 season, I was wrong. Mauer had a career-low .277 batting average and managed only 518 plate appearances. Mauer's OPS and OPS+ approached career lows, as well, and he managed only 4 homers, about one homer per 130 plate appearances. In addition, Joe continued a disturbing trend of increasing strikeouts. He fanned 96 times, about 18.5% of the time, compared to maxing out at less than 12 percent his first eight years in the league. His strikeout percentage has increased dramatically each of his last three seasons. Mauer suffered injuries, missing games with back spasms and an elbow injury and getting disabled with an oblique injury that reportedly bothered him for most of the rest of the season. It has also been reported that Mauer was rusty coming in to the spring because he didn't have his normal workout regimen due to the concussion. Combined with the adjustment of switching fulltime to first base, Mauer had an uncomfortable first half of the season. At the All-Star break, he was hitting .271 with a .695 OPS. Joe picked up the pace after the All-Star break. His OBP after the break was .397 and his OPS after the break was .805. Mauer had pretty dramatic platoon splits. Against left handers, he managed only four extra base hits and had an OPS of .654 (.776 against right handers). No one can dispute that Mauer's numbers were far below career norms. The question is whether he is going hard in decline mode or whether he can recapture his Hall of Fame worthy form from his first ten years in the majors. No one really knows and no one knows the extent of the injuries, including the concussion he suffered in 2013. My speculation is that Mauer has long been a premier player using his somewhat unique approach. I think that he now needs to adjust that approach. He needs to be more aggressive early in the count and find pitches to drive. He also needs to be stronger, so that some of his 360 foot fly balls turn into 380 foot home runs. Defensively, Mauer looked uncomfortable at first at the beginning of the year. By playing 100 games at first, he got more comfortable and became a pretty good defensive first baseman. All of that matters little if he can't come back and again be a top hitter.
  11. Anyone with even a peripheral understanding of Minnesota sports media understands the beating Joe Mauer takes on a regular basis from the area's mainstream sportswriters. The simplest of Google searches will quickly reveal a mass of articles from the likes of Jim Souhan, Patrick Reusse, and others berating Mauer for his lack of perceived toughness. Ever since Joe Mauer's seminal 2009 MVP campaign, this narrative has only intensified, with many now viewing Minnesota's once-considered G.O.A.T. as a proverbial goat. Therefore, I will investigate the validity of such arguments, in addition to their underlying causes and bases. One of the standard claims levied against Joe Mauer is that he misses too much time to be a valuable player or a team leader. First, this argument ignores the fact that he played the game's most taxing position for the first 10 years of his career. Even then, Mauer accumulated more playing time than people give him credit for. To qualify for the batting title and other awards related to full season performance, players must average 3.1 plate appearances a game, or approximately 502 over an entire season. Mauer has averaged 506 plate appearances per season over his career, and that includes his two truly injury-plagued seasons (2004 and 2011). Many baseball diehards will still claim that Mauer could've "toughed it out" through more plate appearances, but that argument falters once you actually look at his injury history. As a starting point, here's a list of every Joe Mauer DL stint in the majors: 2004 - 15/60-day DL: torn meniscus. 2007 - 15-day DL: thigh strain. 2009 - 15-day DL: lower back sprain. 2011 - 60-day DL: bilateral leg weakness. 2011 - 15-day DL: pneumonia. 2013 - 15-day DL: concussion. 2014 - 15-day DL: abdominal strain. That's not the most promising injury history, but it's not exactly Grady Sizemore-status, either. The main point, though, is that it wouldn't have made sense for Mauer to have played through any of those injuries. In baseball, a game where healthy hitters have a hard enough time hitting 95-mph fastballs, playing someone whose swing and instincts are off due to injury makes no sense. Additionally, most writers and fans lack the medical knowledge and insider information that professional medical staffs possess, so who are they to demand playing time from afflicted athletes? The one injury that attacked this question most was Mauer's 2011 bout with bilateral leg weakness. Critics latched onto the injury's funny-sounding name, but it took even professionals weeks to trace it back to a rare viral infection. One applicable modern legal-scientific method is the precautionary principle, which states that if an action has a suspected risk, the burden of proof lies on those demanding action to prove that it is not harmful. In a situation that involved so much medical uncertainty, the fact that people called on Mauer to play through the bilateral leg weakness was unfathomable, particularly considering he's the one whose long-term health was at stake. What only compounded the incomprehensibility of the scenario was that the 2011 Twins weren't very good in the first place, obfuscating the need for Mauer's presence on the diamond. One clear reason for critics blasting Mauer, as opposed to other injury-stricken athletes, is his large contract that pays him $23 million annually. This first requires one to prove that Mauer's performance isn't worth the money. Definitely so this year, but Aaron Gleeman and others have pointed out previously that his play as a catcher in '10, '12, and '13 was worth more than what he was paid ($26 million). That aside, maligned athletes draw almost unilateral blame for their contracts despite those documents existing as two way agreements. Mauer receives inordinate criticism for making a lot of money; money that the Twins thought he was worth. In fact, the easier argument to make is that the Twins aren't spending enough money. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars funded Target Field's construction only a few years ago, yet the organization continues to spend under budget. The money component goes far in explaining Mauer-bashing, but still doesn't explain its viciousness in comparison to other overpaid Twins (Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, etc.). Another aspect of Joe Mauer that does turn him into a lightning rod for those who value "grit" and "toughness" is his style of play. While he's had the occasional power surge (see: 2009), Mauer has long been a valuable player because of his on-base skills and finesse. However, for many, those don't hold the same appeal and sizzle that "power" stats like HRs and RBIs do. RBIs are an empty stat to begin with (another debate for another day), but Mauer hasn't had much to work with over the years, given the perenially sorry state of the number 2 position in the Twins' lineup. Any lack of production in that category clearly isn't Mauer's fault, as he's posted a career .329 BA w/ RISP. And yes, the HR numbers dipped after moving from the Metrodome to one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball, but the power's still there. Mauer posted 43 doubles in '10, 31 in '12, and 35 in '13; all of which are numbers above his career average. In the end, it's almost impossible to divorce any discussion of Mauer from one fundamental question: why do we value perceived "toughness" so much if players can possess other attributes that contribute as much or more to victory? Answering that query involves discussions of masculinity and gender that could fill up a hundred blog posts, but it's a necessary frame to consider when analyzing anti-Mauer sentiments. Despite popular perception, Joe Mauer is and has been an eminently valuable baseball player, whether one chooses to believe he's "tough" or not.
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