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  1. Hello everyone and welcome to the game thread for the Royals vs. Twins on Joe Mauer Day. The weekend is all Joe Mauer all the time and his elevation to the Twins' Hall of Fame along with the retirement of number 7 has brought back many Twins' greats and Mauer teammates. There will be a sellout crowd tonight and I would expect the game to start later than the posted 6:10 start time. Mauer and his career have been discussed to death on this site, so I will leave that topic and concentrate on the game. First thought--With now a two-catcher rotation and ten very capable players everyone is getting days off. Adrianza is in the lineup at least twice a week and Gonzalez gets four or five starts in a week. This is keeping everyone fresh and shows the quality and versatility of the position players on the 2019 Twins. Second thought--Jake Odorizzi has been nothing short of fantastic this year. The win-loss, ERA and WHIP numbers are off the charts. I would think unless he stumbles there will be an All-Star berth for the free agent-to-be. Third thought--One of the Twins' most indispensable players left the game early. I suspect Buxton will sit out today, but a long-term injury for Buxton could be damaging. Let's hope Byron stays healthy. Fourth thought--Except for Taylor Rogers, the bullpen had last night off. Getting a couple of the struggling members in a low-leverage situation would be a chance to "hit the reset button" and be more effective going forward. Fifth and last thought--The opponent. The Royals aren't very good, but they have gone about rebuilding in a good way. They have lots of young players, team speed, decent defense. They need to hit and pitch better. Today's starter, Glenn Sparkman, is coming off a good start. Please post lineups when they become available. I'll be enjoying a parade in my former hometown tonight, so I'll have to catch up after the game. Go Twins!
  2. Best First Baseman in Twins history? This is really tough because 1B seems to be the plug and play position. Can’t run – 1B, no room at DH – 1B. Need a rest 1B. So for the most part slow, lumbering, powerful describes the position, but then there are the exceptions like Keith Hernandez who set the bar for the leagues and Joe Mauer who set the fielding bar for the Twins. But note – Hernandez might have been a fielding whiz, but 1B fielding does not get you into the HOF. So how to analyze 1B? To begin with how many games did the player start at that position, remember it can be a fill in for another position player to get a bench player on the field. In 1961, Harmon Killebrew played at first base for 119 games. I know we think of 3B, but the big slugger was able to come across the field too. To illustrate my point about how 1B is a fill-in position the following players were also on the bag during 1961, Bob Allison, Don Mincher, Julio Becquer, Joe Altobelli, and Ron Howard. In 1962 Harmon was removed for the man I argue was the best glove at the position in our history – Sorry Joe! – but Vic Power was amazing there. Don Mincher was his primary backup, Harmon played there 4 games and played in Left Field (surprise) for 151 games. Jim Snyder got one game at the bag. 1963 saw Vic Power dominate the bag with Mincher his backup and 38 year old Vic Wertz who hit the famous ball that Willie Mays caught in the world series was there for six games. 1964, the 36 year old Power lost the job to Bob Allison – yes the great left fielder of the Twins started 93 games at first, Don Mincher started 76, Power 12 and then the list is Minnesota Native, Jerry Kindall, Frank Kostro, and Rich Reese. In 1965 perennial understudy Don Mincher started 99 games and Harmon Killebrew came back to the bag for 72 games. The other names are Rich Reese, Bob Allison, Andy Kosko. This was our World Series team. Don Mincher started 130 games in 1966 and was backed up by Harmon Killebrew 42 games and Harmon played 3B 107 games that year. In 1967 Mincher was gone and Harmon had the bag for 160 games. Rich Reese was his understudy at first. Rich Reese took the lead in 1968 with 87 games, Killebrew was at 3B for 11 games and 1B for 77. Bob Allison had 17 games and then the parade at the base had Frank Kostro, Craig Nettles (famous 3B for the Yankees and a 3B glove wizard – he also played 3b, LF, RF, CF that year), Keith Hernandez, Jim Holt, Frank Quilici, and Cesar Tovar! 1969 we were back to Rich Reese with 118 games and Killebrew going between 3B and 1B playing at first for 81 games. Rounding out 1B was Cotton Nash, Bob Allison, and Jim Holt. The new decade looked quite similar with Rich Reese getting 146 games in 1970 and Harmon Killebrew coming over from 3B 28 times and Bob Allison for seven. Then Jim Holt, Cotton Nash, and Hall of Famer Rod Carew for one game. The first base men of the sixties break down to these: Killebrew 969 games out of 22 years in MLB, 791 games at 3B, 7 seasons in LF so he is primarily a 1B player. Of course he is in the HOF, his WAR is 60.4. .256/.376/.509/.884 with 573 HRs makes him hard to beat. Don Mincher played 13 years, 7 with the Twins. 8.3 WAR with Twins. .244/.340/.479/.819 He hit 200 HRs in his career. 617 games. Vic Power played three of his twelve years in MN. 1.7 WAR in MN. 278/.305/.398/.703 In fielding he was 62 Runs above average according to BR. He was in 301 games for us. Rich Reese was with the Twins of 10 of his 11 years in MLB. 3.2 WAR for those ten years is not very great. He had 640 appearances at first. Bob Allison was the primary 1B only one years, but appeared at first in 145 games and therefore is not really in the running despite his great skills. Rich Reese 95 and Harmon Killebrew 90 games dominated first in 1971 with Jim Holt and George Thomas as other players. 1972 Killebrew had 130 games at first and obviously was replaced for defensive purposes because Rich Reese is credited with 98 games at first. In addition the other 1B appearances were by Rick Renick, Jim Holt (he seems to have a long career of one appearance), and Jim Nettles (Craig’s brother). 1973 surprises me. While Killebrew got 57 games, Joe Lis (?) was the primary starter for 96, Jim Holt got 33, Reese 17 and Craig Kusick 11. Kusick took over in 1974 starting 75 games, Jim Holt played 67, Killebrew 33 and DH for 57, Pat Bourgue 21, Joe Lis 18, and Jerry Terrell 2. Kusick was still the primary 1B in 1975 but barely. He was in 51 games, John Briggs 49, Tom Kelly 43 (his only MLB year!), Rod Carew 14, Steve Braun 9, Danny Walton 7. A typical merry-go-round at the bag. Then in 1976 Rod Carew put another HOF players at first base. He was at first for 152 games, Kusick for 24 and no one else! Not much changes in 1977 with Carew at first for 151 games, Kusick for 23 and Jerry Terrell 1. The Rod Carew show continued in 1978 with Rod in 148 games, Kusick 27 and Jose Morales in 2. The decade of the seventies ended with Cal Griffiths big racist mouth chasing Carew to California and first base went to Ron Jackson who started 157 games, Danny Goodwin, Craig Kusick 8, and Mike Cubbage, Jose Morales, and Roy Smalley one each. For the seventies we can disregard the players I looked at for the sixties even though some certainly were the major players in this decade. The new first base men – the starters were: Craig Kusick played for the Twins 7 years and accumulated 3.6 WAR, .236/ .343/.394/.738 He played at first 238 games. Rod Carew played 19 seasons, 12 with the Twins 1184 games at First. 334/.393/ .448/.841 and 63.8 WAR with the Twins. Joe Lis played two years with the Twins and his .238/ .321/.374/.695 (-0.4) WAR is hardly worthy of being on the list. The last first baseman of the group is Ron Jackson. He played for the Twins for 3 of his 10 MLB years and batted .268/.325/.409/.734 with 2.8 WAR and played first 552 times in 8 years Summing up the 1970’s we come up with HOF number 2 as the best – Rod Carew and then a lot of names and not much to show. Ron Jackson will lead off the new decade in 1980 with 119 games at first followed by Mike Cubbage at 73, Danny Goodwin 13, Pete Mackanin 4, Roy Smalley 3, Jose Morales 2, and Jesus Vega 2. The 1981 season was a merry-go-round with Danny Goodwin starting 40, Ron Jackson 36, Tim Corcoran 16, Kent Hrbek 13, Pete Mackanin 10, Mickey Hatcher 7, Sal Butera 1, and Roy Smalley 1. At least there were some really recognizable names among the eight! 1982 put Kent Hrbek at the forefront with 138 games, Jesus Vega (who I do not remember) played 18 and Greg Wells 10. Hrbek owned the base now and in 1983 he had 137 games with Scott Ullger as his backup and playing 30 games. Then Mickey Hatcher 7, Randy Bush 3. Hrbek 148 games, Hatcher 17 and Randy Bush 2 in 1984. In 1985 it is amazing that there are 9 names at first base when Hrbek played 156 games and Mike Stenhouse played 8, with Mickey Hatcher 4. Lots of substitutions, I guess. Anyway, the rest of the nine are Randy Bush, Mark Funderburk, Gary Gaetti, Tim Laudner, Roy Smalley, and Ron Washington. Not sure how they did this unless they had one game of musical chairs. 1986 was simpler – Hrbek 146, Hatcher 22, Bush 3. In the World Series Year of 1987 Hrbek played in 137, Gene Larkin was 26, Randy Bush 9, Tim Laudner 7. A Very Big year – our second World Series and first victory with Hrbek using his wrestling moves to handle St Louis. I was in a bar with Cardinal fans in Sierra Vista Arizona during that game – what a hoot! In 1988 Hrbek only played in 105 games so Gene Larkin got to play in 60, Bush 6, Kelvin Torve (anyone remember him?) 4 and Tim Laudner 3. The last season of the eighties decade was another merry-go-round with 8 players at first. Hrbek played in 89, Gene Larkin 69, Randy Bush 25, Tim Laundner 11, Paul Sorrento 5, Gaetti, Brian Harper, and John Moses two each. The eighties were the Hrbek decade. Hrbek played for the Twins for 14 years. .282/.367/ 481/.848 with 38.6 WAR. He played 1609 games at first. Danny Goodwin played three years for the Twins .242/.312/.372 /.684 (-1.3) WAR and 61 games at 1B. The nineties still had Hrbek 120 games at first, Larkin 28, Sorrento 15, Bush 6, Moses 6, Gaetti and Harper two each. In 1991, the next World Series victory Hrbek had 128 games, Larkin 39, Sorrento 13, Bush 12, Harper 1, and Al Newman 1. It is a reminder that we actually had a bench in those days. 1992 Hrbek 104, Larkin 55, Terry Jorgenson 13, Randy Bush 8, and Chili Davis 1. 1993 we dropped to fifth in our division with 71 wins and Hrbek was on first 115 games. Dave McCarty was the new hope and he played first in 36 games with Larkin 18, Jorgenson 9, David Winfield – Hall of Famer – 5, Randy Bush 4, Mike Maksudian 4, and Chip Hale 1. 1994 Hrbek played only 72 games at first, Dave McCarty 32, Steve Dunn 12, Jeff Reboulet 10, Chip Hale 7. Hrbek was done. 1995 we set a new record with 11 players spending some time at First. Scott Stahoviak played 69 so he is the starter of record for this year. Dan Masteller 48, Ron Coomer 22, McCarty 18, Reboulet 17, Jerald Clark 11, Kevin Maas 8, Steve Dunn, Pedro Munoz, and Chip Hale 3 each, and Matt Merullo 1. 1996 Scott Stahoviak took over and started 114 games, but the Coomer was on his tail with 57, and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor snuck in and played first 17 games. Jeff Reboulet 13, Chip Hale 6, and Denny Hocking 1. With out team playing on the wrong end of the standings things were shaking up and in 1997 Stahoviak held on for 81 games, but he was being pushed by Greg Colburn who started 64, and Brent Brede 15. Paul Molitor took the bag for 14 games, and a guy named David Ortiz for 11, Ron Coomer 9, Terry Steinback 2, and Denny Hocking 1. 1998 David Ortiz – soon to be a Hall of Famer got to start 70 games, but he was not good enough to start more so Ron Coomer got 54 starts. And Coomer out homered Ortiz 15 – 9! Orlando Merced got 38 games, Molitor 9, Doug Mientkiewicz 8, Stahoviak 4, Hocking 2, Gates 1 and Jon Shave 1. Ending the decade of the nineties Mientkiewicz took over with 110 games, Coomer 71, Gates 5, Hocking 2, and David Ortiz was allowed to start 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. So here we have a tough decision – does Hrbek own this decade too? Stahoviak played for the Twins for five years and got a total of 1 WAR. .256/.335/.410/.745 and 268 games at first. David Ortiz toiled six years with the Twins – 266/.348/461/.809 2.6 WAR. Ron Coomer .278/ .315/.431/.746 for six years with 2.5 WAR and 408 games at first in his career. Doug Mientkiewicz for seven years hit .275/.367/.408/.776 with WAR 6.4 WAR. An excellent fielder who ranks with Power and Mauer for the best gloves. Doug did more in the 2000s than the 90s but this field is weak despite David Ortiz so Mientkiewicz is my choice for the 90s – otherwise it is Hrbek again. A new decade and a new century. We wipe the slate clean – it has to be good, right? Mientkiewicz only plays 3 games in 2000 and Ron Coomer grabs first playing 124 games, David Ortiz gets in 27, Hocking 12, Butch Huskey 9, Matt LeCroy 3, Casey Blake 3, and Chad Allen 1. Just think if they had given Ortiz all the games the last 5 had! 2001 and the team actually played 500 which is a big jump from the last few seasons. Mientkiewicz is back at First for 148 games, Denny Hocking played 11, and David Ortiz gets 8, Cuddyer 5, Casey Blake 3, LeCroy 2. Doug is okay, but we will all wonder why Ortiz gets the shuffle – actually we know – it is the genius Tom Kelly. Tom was a great manager, but he blew this opportunity with Ortiz because the Twins Way was not David’s. 2002 we were in first place in our division Mientkiewicz started 143 games, Ortiz 15, LeCroy 8, Cuddyer, Hocking and Todd Sears six each, Bobby Keitly 5, and Casey Blake 3. 2003 and another first place. Mientkiewicz played 139 games, LeCroy 17, Sears 14, Hocking 10, Morneau 7, Cuddyer 5. In 2004 this order changes as Mientkiewicz playes 77 games and Morneau 61 and why was LeCroy in 23 games? Cuddyer 10, Jose Offerman 7 and Terry Tiffee 1. 2005 Morneau takes over and plays first in 138 games. LeCroy is primary back up with 23 appearances and Terry Tiffee (I really cannot remember him) played 13, with Cuddyer getting in 8. In 2006 Morneau is again, the man. He was in 153 games. Other appearances at first base were Cuddyer 6, Phil Nevin 5, Tiffee 3, and Luis Rodriquez 1. 2007 Morneau 143 and then a list of mostly unknowns – Jeff Cirillo 8, Garrett Jones 8, Cuddyer 4, Rodriguez 3, and LeCroy 1. 2008 Morneau starts 155 games. Other appearances at first are by Mike Lamb, Brian Buscher, Howie Clark, Cuddyer, Bendan Harris, and Matt Macri. Finishing the decade in 2009 Morneau played in 123 games at first, Cuddyer 34, Buscher 13, Harris 3, Justin Huber and Matt Tolbert 1. So the 00 decade ended with only one true option – Justin Morneau. Morneau played 11 seasons with the Twins - .278/.347/.485/.832 and 23.3 WAR while playing 1324 games at first in his career. The final decade is the one we are finishing up – the tens or teens. 2010 Cuddyer plays the most at first 84 games while Morneau has 77 as a concussion ruins a great career. Talbert, Harris and Morales get the crumbs. 2011 Morneau hangs on to get 56 games, Cuddyer 46, Luke Hughes 36, Chris Parmelee 20, and Joe Mauer makes his first appearances at the bag for 18 games. Plouffe plays one game at first. The winds of change are in the air. 2012 Morneau gets his games up to 99 and Parmelee 38, Mauer 30. The scraps go to Plouffe for three and one each for Doumit, Burroughs, and Hughes. 2013 Morneau is still the man – 112 games, followed by Chris Calabello 26, Parmelee 23, Mauer 8, and Plouffe 2. 2014 in the midst of a string of last place finished, the big news is that Joe Mauer is now the first baseman. He has 100 games at first, Parmelee 33, Colabello 23, Kendrys Morales 13, and Kennys Vargas 13. Joe will be the man from now on and in 2015 he started 137 games at first and the team finished second and above 500. Kennys Vargas 18, Trevor Plouffe 17, Chris Hermann and Miguel Sano got two each. 2016 Mauer 95, Vargas 32, Byung Ho Park 24, Plouffe 13, Beresford 6 and Kepler 2. 2017 we finish second and above 500 and Mauer starts 125 games with Vargas backing him up and playing in 40 games, Miguel Sano played first in 9, Chris Giminez 7, Ehire Adrianza 4, and Mitch Garver 3. I will stop there. We know Mauer will finish his career and there really is no doubt that he is the first baseman of the 10s. He has 11 seasons as a catcher where he was hall of fame caliber and 8 as our best first baseman, but no longer HOF. His line .306/.388/.439/.827 is outstanding and puts him in the HOF conversation. But this is hard – you choose - here are the best Minnesota first basemen by decades again – I find that it is hard to sort out their first base stats from catcher, LF, RF, 3B, 2B, and all the other positions that many of them played. Two are in the Hall of fame, one might join them, one would have if his career had not been damaged by injury. • 1960s – Harmon Killebrew • 1970s – Rod Carew • 1980s – Kent Hrbek • 1990s – Mientkiewicz • 2000s – Morneau • 2010s – Mauer Nice list – who do you want? For those of you counting - there were 108 players who were on first base in the 56 years!
  3. I have been following ESPN’s look at positions and comparing the position’s historically by statistics and currently by ranking the players and putting them in tiers. So of course, since I have been watching the Twins since their Minnesota debut I thought we should do the same things. Like ESPN I will start with the Catchers. Earl Battey was our first catcher and in many ways was under rated. He was our catcher for 8 of his 13 years in the big leagues – starting with the White Sox and ending with the Twins. His slash line for those 8 years is .277/.354/.412 – OPS .766 – OPS + 109 and WAR 17.5 (an average for the 8 years of 2.2 per year). Now wouldn’t those lines be great today? George Mitterwald was the next catcher – He started with the Twins and was in Minnesota for 7 years before playing four years for the cubs. 239/.304 /.373 OPS .676 was a come down from Battey. He had a WAR of 6 (0.85 per year). Phil Roof was his second, but George played 120 games. In 1974 Roof stayed as the backup along with Randy Hundley and Glenn Borgmann played 128 games. Glenn played for the Twins for 8 years and then, like the previous three had a stint (1 year) in Chicago. 229/.325/.304/.630 lowered the standards again. His WAR was 5 for the 8 years (.6 average). You have to discount the WAR because he lost his starting role in 1976 so he had only two full seasons to create this WAR total. Randy Hundley was replaced by the forgettable Tom Lundstedt as third catcher in 1975 and was gone in 1976 as Butch Wynegar (Griffiths – Love that Kid) took charge, Borgmann dropped to two and Roof to three. Butch had a good press but his .254/.340 /.342/.682 means he was somewhat overrated. He did acquire a WAR total of 15.3 for those seven years because his defense was very good. (2.2 average WAR). In 1977 Bud Bulling replaced Roof as number three. Do you remember those days when rosters had number three catchers? Wow! After Bulling left – one year – we really just kept Wynegar and Borgmann for a few years. In 1980 Borgmann went to the Cubs and we brought in, as backup, Sal Butera who started 32 games. Then in 1981 Butera played 59 games, Wynegar 37, Ray Smith 15 and Tim Laudner 12. Butera was with the Twins for four years and his slash line was .233/.303 /.274/.577 with a Total WAR for the four years of -0.8 or an average of -0.2. In 1982 Tim Laudner took over, Butera was number 2, Wynegar number 3. Tim played nine years – all for the Twins and of course is a local Icon now. His line was 225/.292/.391/.682 and total WAR 3.2 an average of 0.3 per year. In 1983 Laudner dropped to number 3 with 57 games behind Ray Smith 59 games and Dave Engle 72! Dave Engle played for Minnesota for five years with a line of .268/.316/.400/.716 and a low WAR of 3.4 which would have been okay for a catcher but in reality he played more OF/DH/3B. In 1984 he was still catcher number one, with Tim Laudner 2 and Jeff Reed as number three. Then Engle dropped to number three in 1985 with only 17 games behind the plate, Laudner had 68, and a man I had forgotten – Mark Salas was number one with 115 games! Salas was with us three years and had a respectable line - .279/.320/.440/.760 He had a 2.7 WAR of .9 per year and he went on to play 8 years – with the Yankees, White Sox, Cleveland and Detroit. In 1986 Salas had 69 games, Laudner 68, and Reed 64! In 1987 Laudner took over the position again with 101 games and Sal Butera was back as number 2 with Tom Nieto number 3 and Mark Salas number 4. And in 1987 Laudner kept the number one position for 109 games and Tom Nieto played in 24 and a guy by the name of Harper came in and played 48. Harper took over in 1988 and Laudner was second again. Behind Laudner for games at catcher that year were Orlando Mercado, Lenny Webster, and Greg Olson. Harper took over for sure in 1988 and was backed up by Junior Ortiz and Lenny Webster. Harper played 16 years, 6 with Minnesota. In those six years he was .306/.342/.431/.773 with a WAR total of 13.4 or 2.3 per year. The same threesome was there in 1991 and in 1992/1993 Ortiz was replaced with Derek Parks. In 1994 Derek Parks was the only hold over, but Matt Walbeck took over the starting position. In three years with the Twins his line was .230/.271/.300 /.571 and a WAR of (-1.5) giving him an average of -0.5 per year. He ended up playing in the majors for 11 years. In 1995 Parks was gone and Matt Merulo and Jeff Reboulet played back up. Greg Myers took over in 1996 (and I cannot remember him at all) and Walbeck was second with Mike Durant Catching 34 games. Despite my amnesia, he played in the majors for 18 years! His two years with MN he had a line of .279/.323/.429 /.752 which looks really good and he had a WAR of 1.2 or .6 per year. Myers became expendable when Terry Steinbach took over in 1997 and caught 116 games. Myers caught 38, Damian Miller 20 and Javier Valentin caught 4. In 1998 Valentin took over backup with 53 games, Terry caught 119 and a new guy – A J Pierzynski caught 6. Steinbach had a line of .256/.321/.399/ .719 for three years and WAR of 3.2 and average of 1.1. In all Terry caught for 14 years in the big leagues with Oakland and Minnesota. Steinbach was still number one in 1999 with 96 games and number two was not AJ – it was Valentin with 76 games. AJ caught 9. Then in 2000 we had a catcher mess! Marcus Jensen (who?) caught 49 games, Matt LeCroy caught 49 games, Chad Moeller (double who?) caught 48, AJ caught 32, and Danny (triple who???) Ardoin caught 15. Marcus was in the majors seven years. In his one with us he was .209/.325/.338/ .663 and WAR was 0.0. In 2001 we cleared the field and AJ took over and caught 110 games with Tom Prince catching 64 and LeCroy catching 3. AJ has a 19 year career – amazing for a catcher. Based on rumors he has 19 friends too, but all we care about are his catching credentials. .301/.341/.447/.788 are fine numbers and his WAR 9.5 for six years needs to be factored with two of those being non-playing years so he really averaged 2.38 for the four years he was starter! Pretty damn good numbers. In 2002 he was backed up by the same two plus Valentin. In 2003 Valentin was replaced by Rob Bowen. And in 2004 AJ was gone and we had another logjam. Henry Blanco caught the most games – 114 with a line of .206/.260/.368/ .628 and (-0.2) WAR which makes him forgettable as a Twin, but he had a 16 year career. His backup were Joe Mauer 32 games, Matt LeCroy 26, Pat Borders 19, Rob Bowen 15. 2005 began the Joe Mauer era and his back ups were Mike Redmond, Chris Heintz, Corky Miller, and Matt LeCroy for 1. LeCroy and Miller were gone in 2006. But LeCroy caught 4 again in 2007 and Jose Morales caught 1. Ryan Jorgenson caught 2 games in 2008 and the rest were Redmond and Mauer (139). 2009 Redmond and Mauer had Morales as the number 3. In 2010 Redmond was gone. Redmond was here for five years and had a line that read .297/.339/.359/.699 with a total of 1.3 WAR. Not bad for a back up. The 2010 backups were Drew Butera – Sal’s son – and Jose Morales, plus a catcher by the name of Wilson Ramos got in 7 games. In 2011 we had a pivotal year and Mauer could catch only 52 games and Drew Butera caught 93. Mauer and Butera had Rene Rivera start 44 games and Steve Holm six. I do not have the ability to sort our all of Mauer’s Catcher stats from his 1B stats, but I did find that he hit .308/.391/.444 as a Catcher! And his legacy is affected by his .280/.359/.396 line at 1B. My best guess in 31.9 WAR as a catcher. BR has him with 11 seasons at a catcher which gives him an average WAR of 2.9. In 2012 Mauer still caught 74 games, the famous Ryan Doumit caught 59, Drew Butera caught 41 and Chris Herrmann caught 3. This stayed about the same in 2013 with Mauer getting in 75 games, Doumit 43, Herrmann 27 and Josmil Pinto an exciting 20. But that is not all. Eric Fryer caught 5 and Drew Butera 2. It was Doumits last year with the Twins before going to Atlanta. Doumit in his two years was .261/.317/.428/.745 1.6 WAR which was really good as a part time player. 2014 We turned to Kurt Suzuki who is now with the Nationals and had a good run with Atlanta after leaving us. Josmil Pinto started 25 games, Eric Fryer 24, and Chris Herrmann 1. In 2015 Suzuki started 130 games, Pinto started 38 and Eric Fryer 15. Suzuki continued to be the number one in 2016 when he started 99 games, Juan Centeno started 53 and John Ryan Murphy was in 25. Suzuki had a three year run with .263/.316/.364/.680 and 3.3 WAR or 1.1 average. Then we move in to Castro/Giminez/Garver/Wilson/Astudillo and even Graterol. These are not in my measures of the best. With time they may be, but lets look at what this long exercise has produced. So how do we rate them? Most years 1. Mauer 11 2. Battey 8 3. Borgmann 8 4. Mitterwald 7 5. Wynegar 7 Batting average 1. Mauer 308 2. Harper 306 3. Pierzynski 301 4. Redmond 297 5. Battey 277 OBP 1. Mauer 391 2. Battey 354 3. Harper 342 4. Pierzynski 341 5. Wynegar 340 Slugging 1. Pierzynski 447 2. Mauer 444 3. Salas 440 4. Harper 431 5. Myers 429 OPS 1. Mauer 835 2. Pierzynski 788 3. Harper 773 4. Battey 766 5. Salas 760 Total WAR 1. Mauer 31.9 2. Battey 17.5 3. Wynegar 15.3 4. Harper 13.4 5. Pierzynski 9.5 Average WAR per Twin Season 1. Mauer 2.9 2. Harper 2.3 3. Battey 2.2 4. Wynegar 2.2 5. Pierzynski 1.6 (2.4 as starter) Mauer is obvious number 1 – then? Harper, Battey, Pierzynski, and Wynegar seem to show up the most.
  4. mikelink45

    Why Now?

    I know - Spring training is still a two months away and the big fish are still swimming in the Free Agent pond so news is sparse, Santa is still trying to load the sleigh with big contracts and hope for every team. In an earlier blog I wrote about the moves of the Twins and how lack luster they have been. https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11289-%7B%3F%7D/ Now we are another three weeks since I wrote that and unfortunately I could publish it again and be just as timely. No rule 5 player taken, none loss (how can we rank so high as a team when no one wants our players in rule 5 - we had a lot of them to choose from). The Winter meetings came and went. Our team got a B- from ESPN for the off season - mainly it was our hiring of coaches which is such an inexact science we have no way to know if we did well. Remember how the Vikings went for the hot Offensive Coordinator from the Super Bowl Eagles - DeFillipo? How did that go? Well we need something besides the Winter Melt Down, or rather before we melt down. The big names and the roster projection at this point will probably not change before 2019 takes over the calendar and all the analysis seems to be mediocre at best. So we turn to Mauer. When the end of the season meant nothing and some prospects wondered why they were not with the team, we did a big finish with Mauer catching again. It was great, a wonderful story for a great Twin, but it was also a distraction from what went on this season. So now that we have nothing to grab onto - Mauer comes back to rescue us again. I know it is early, and we cannot even set the date yet, but let's announce that we are going to retire Mauer's number. We all knew it would happen, when we were not sure, but 2019 needs something and sports fans are confused by the Vikings, experiencing the same Timberwolves mystique, and watching the WIld grab fifth place in its division, while the Gophers 6 - 6 play in a the Mediocre bowl game against a 7 - 5 team. I think Mauer should have his number retired, but maybe we should wait to see if he gets so lonely for the diamond that he decides to return in March. Or is this our subtle way of getting him to the HOF - like Harold Baines who had his number retired by the White Sox after they traded him and he was still an active ballplayer? Well now we know and we can add this to the Twins off season WOW factor. Congratulations Joe, this is not a criticism of you. I know many will not see this update, but here I sit on the Solstice and I see the Dodgers have moved, Puig, Wood, and Kemp and the Reds got rid of Homer Bailey. Soria joined the As, Miller signed with the Cards, Profar goes to the As, Pagan to the Rays, Daniel Murphy is with the Rockies, Sanchez is a National, Cahill is an Angel, and a few minor parts moved. It is not that I wanted all of these players to be a Twin, but the Twin news is still - Mauer's number is being retired.
  5. Okay, we know Joe is on first, but we do not know if Joe wants to stay there or go home and be a dad. Actually we do not know how Mrs Joe feels about this. Joe is the perfect compliment to our existing infield, not because he hits well, he and Robbie Grossman are the walk guys if you like that for your batters. But right now it is Joe's glove that is saving this rather mediocre group of fielders. First base is a nice place for Austin or Sano or Grossman, but we do not have the greatest fielders and they can use the security of a really good fielding first baseman. Ask the pitchers what they think. So Joe can play the I am not sure card and the FO can say we traded for Austin and Cave and have Sano and others ready for 1B and all can provide the tradition 1B power. Have fun with the negotiations - Joe is not coming back cheap. So who wins? Fielding and nostalgia or power and youth? I am not sure. This is the list of possible 1B for 2019 - how would you arrange them? Joe Mauer Tyler Austin Miguel Sano Robbie Grossman Jake Cave Brent Rooker Or do you sign a FA and set back all the young guys? The infield is not as strong as the outfield, the answers are much more complicated - defense versus batting.
  6. Imagine the Universe, swirling mysteriously across untold aeons and dimensions. Within this maelstrom, how can one isolate the force that is Mauer Power? How far does it extend? Is it more polite than other Universal forces, like Hulkamania? My goals may be lofty in this Universe, and yet I am COMPELLED to write yet another column about Mauer and the home runs. This Question of the Ages is a perennial classic for the local sports media. For most of them, it seems Mauer Power did not increase the size of their hearts three sizes in all. So I stand at the precipice that is beginning this column, armed with the knowledge that only a FULL and MEASURED knowledge of THE UNSEEN WORLD can solve this riddle. And it’s all done with numbers. In 2009, Joe Mauer hit the most home runs for season he'd ever hit in his career. He has yet to meet or exceed that number again - the number 28. Mauer's number is 7. 7 is widely considered to be a lucky and powerful number. 28 divided by 7 is 4. 28 also ends in 8, whereas 2009 ends in 9. These are not the same numbers. However, 7 did eat 9, which is highly symbolic of Mauer's power in the year 2009. This year is 2018. 18 is equal to 9 times 2. Skid Row taught us that 18 equals Life, which is also promising. This mathematics teaches me that Joe Mauer will hit 56 home runs in 2018, because of the maths mentioned above. And yet, this SIMPLICITY of the UNIVERSE seems complicated or even ridiculous to those not attuned to the POWERS OF MYSTERIOUS POWERS. And if he could just line drive those suckers into the left field stands like a screaming banshee. the Universe would crap itself in delight. Magically Delicious, Axel
  7. There are a handful of franchise records that could be broken in 2018. While you follow the exciting Twins season, you should follow these exciting record chases as well! Career Hits against Lefties As Joe Mauer enters his 15th season with the Twins, he is starting to approach some accumulation records. While he’s still 900+ hits away from that franchise record, he is within striking distance of the franchise record of hits against left-handed pitchers. Mauer needs to collect 54 hits against lefties this year to pass Carew’s record mark. While he's had just 40 such hits last year, he’s had 5 seasons in his career with 54+ against southpaws. Unfortunately, the most recent of those seasons came 6 years ago in 2012. Adding to the degree of difficulty, the starting rotations of AL Central opponents expects to be very righty-heavy this year, which could suppress his number of plate appearance against lefties. If Mauer breaks this record in 2018, it will come at the very end of the year, so file this one away for a few months. Target Field Strikeouts If you're looking for a record that could be broken early in the year, then look no further (but please do look further, I still have 2 more after this one). Francisco Liriano is the current record-holder for strikeouts at Target Field. His lead, however, is so narrow that he will certainly be passed by at least one Twins pitcher this year, even though he could add to his total by pitching at Target Field when his Detroit Tigers visit Minnesota. Even if it turns out that Kyle Gibson didn't turn a corner late last year, it won't take much for him to pass up Liriano, as he only needs 4 Ks to do it. If Gibson did turn a corner, then he'll likely take the lead after one start. Ervin Santana is poised to pass Liriano as well assuming he can remain healthy after he returns from his finger injury. As for Santana catching up to Gibson, it would require Gibson to miss most of the year or get traded. Phil Hughes could also pass Liriano with a good season, but surpassing Gibson and Santana would necessitate a BOGO sale at the Springfield Mystery Spot. Kennys Vargas’ Elite Immobility All Kennys Vargas has to do to set a franchise record is just stand there. Currently, he is the active MLB leader in games played without a stolen base attempt among non-pitchers. The only player in Twins history with more games played without an attempted steal is former-backup-catcher turned manager turned former-manager Mike Redmond. Vargas is just 22 stationary games away from owning this franchise record outright. Unfortunately for him, the addition of Logan Morrison puts his playing time—and roster spot—into question. It does, however, make pinch-hit appearances even more likely if he stays on the team, which would count as games played but would limit his stolen base opportunities. If he remains on the team as a bench bat, expect this record to be his by June, assuming he doesn't screw it up by trying to steal. If he gets designated for assignment or traded, Redmond can light up a cigar in celebration. Total Bases at Target Field Target Field-specific records are kind of lame, but total bases, like strikeouts, is a fairly informative stat. Total bases can be used as crude short-hand for “who was good for the longest time”. If you asked the average Twins fan who was good for the longest time since Target Field opened in 2010, they would probably say either Joe Mauer or Brian Dozier, and that’s exactly who sits at the top of this leaderboard. Dozier needs to net 13 total bases this year to wrest the record away from Mauer. Considering that Dozier had 55 more total bases at home than Mauer last year (during Mauer’s best offensive season in four years), it’s likely that Dozier climbs to the top of this leaderboard by May and doesn’t look back for the rest of 2018. Where these guys fit into the Twins plans going forward will likely dictate who finishes their career with this record on their mantle. View blog post here Which record are you most excited to watch for in 2018? Or is there another record that isn't listed here that you'll be keeping an eye on?
  8. Everybody loves a good record chase. Whether it's Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's asterisk-fueled home run battle of 1998 or the very non-asterisk-fueled Kansas City Royals challenging the record for most consecutive innings without scoring a run last season—a record chase is compelling. There's a fine line, though, between fun facts and records. Fun facts get mocked (rightfully) for having more qualifiers than valuable information. “He has the most infield singles on Tuesday night home games before the All-Star break,” you'll hear someone say in a dopey voice that doesn't actually exist in nature. Those are fun facts and in most cases they are not fun at all. But somewhere between real records and those not-so-fun fun facts are some interesting statistics, if you're into that kind of thing. I am very much into this kind of thing. If you look hard enough, you could find a record-breaking event in nearly every MLB game. If you look a little less hard (look softer?) you come up with a handful of records that are on the verge of being broken in 2018. That’s what I did with the Twins. I looked softer (that doesn’t sound right) and came up with four Twins-specific records that could be broken this year. If you want to watch history in the making this season, you just need to know where to look. Here is your guide to weird Twins records to keep an eye on in 2018. Career Hits against Lefties As Joe Mauer enters his 15th season with the Twins, he is starting to approach some accumulation records. While he’s still 900+ hits away from that franchise record, he is within striking distance of the franchise record of hits against left-handed pitchers. Mauer needs to collect 54 hits against lefties this year to pass Carew’s record mark. While he's had just 40 such hits last year, he’s had 5 seasons in his career with 54+ against southpaws. Unfortunately, the most recent of those seasons came 6 years ago in 2012. Adding to the degree of difficulty, the starting rotations of AL Central opponents expects to be very righty-heavy this year, which could suppress his number of plate appearance against lefties. If Mauer breaks this record in 2018, it will come at the very end of the year, so file this one away for a few months. Target Field Strikeouts If you're looking for a record that could be broken early in the year, then look no further (but please do look further, I still have 2 more after this one). Francisco Liriano is the current record-holder for strikeouts at Target Field. His lead, however, is so narrow that he will certainly be passed by at least one Twins pitcher this year, even though he could add to his total by pitching at Target Field when his Detroit Tigers visit Minnesota. Even if it turns out that Kyle Gibson didn't turn a corner late last year, it won't take much for him to pass up Liriano, as he only needs 4 Ks to do it. If Gibson did turn a corner, then he'll likely take the lead after one start. Ervin Santana is poised to pass Liriano as well assuming he can remain healthy after he returns from his finger injury. As for Santana catching up to Gibson, it would require Gibson to miss most of the year or get traded. Phil Hughes could also pass Liriano with a good season, but surpassing Gibson and Santana would necessitate a BOGO sale at the Springfield Mystery Spot. Kennys Vargas’ Elite Immobility All Kennys Vargas has to do to set a franchise record is just stand there. Currently, he is the active MLB leader in games played without a stolen base attempt among non-pitchers. The only player in Twins history with more games played without an attempted steal is former-backup-catcher turned manager turned former-manager Mike Redmond. I included the rest of the top 5 because having the Butera Boyz™ together is fun, and any leaderboard that includes Mike Redmond and Hall of Famer Jim Thome together is fantastic. Vargas is just 22 stationary games away from owning this franchise record outright. Unfortunately for him, the addition of Logan Morrison puts his playing time—and roster spot—into question. It does, however, make pinch-hit appearances even more likely if he stays on the team, which would count as games played but would limit his stolen base opportunities. If he remains on the team as a bench bat, expect this record to be his by June, assuming he doesn't screw it up by trying to steal. If he gets designated for assignment or traded, Redmond can light up a cigar in celebration. Total Bases at Target Field Target Field-specific records are kind of lame, but total bases, like strikeouts, is a fairly informative stat. Total bases can be used as crude short-hand for “who was good for the longest time”. If you asked the average Twins fan who was good for the longest time since Target Field opened in 2010, they would probably say either Joe Mauer or Brian Dozier, and that’s exactly who sits at the top of this leaderboard. Dozier needs to net 13 total bases this year to wrest the record away from Mauer. Considering that Dozier had 55 more total bases at home than Mauer last year (during Mauer’s best offensive season in four years), it’s likely that Dozier climbs to the top of this leaderboard by May and doesn’t look back for the rest of 2018. Where these guys fit into the Twins plans going forward will likely dictate who finishes their career with this record on their mantle. Which record are you most excited to watch for in 2018? Or is there another record that isn't listed here that you'll be keeping an eye on?
  9. As the official beginning of the offseason looms just a few short weeks away, the Minnesota Twins have shown the fire of a spunky, up and coming, perennial playoff contender. The front office team of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine has already locked in Paul Molitor to captain the ship for the next three seasons, as well as parted ways with Neil Allen, Twins pitching coach of the previous three seasons. All of the Twins burgeoning stars, unofficially dubbed the "Core Four" - consisting of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios- are all in the pre-arbitration stage. All things considered, this team is one that has many (myself included) very excited for 2018 Twins baseball. The youth movement in Minnesota is reaching an apex, locked and loaded with veterans like Brian Dozier leading the charge. This is why I've realized we've reached the end of the Joe Mauer Era in Minnesota. Don't get me wrong, Joe isn't going anywhere for the 2018 season. He'll likely be manning first base, providing what has become well above average defense and, if he can reproduce the magic of 2017, a steady bat in the lineup. What I do mean, however, is the Twins face of the franchise is shifting and the new guard has taken the baton. Mauer, entering his age 35 season and the last of his 8 year/$184 million dollar contract, has evolved through the years from a homegrown hero, generational talent at Catcher and MVP - to a controversial player, often the butt of jokes and source of derision for many (thankfully, not all) Twins fans. Like it or not, however, Mauer has been the face of the Twins franchise for over a decade. He's been the only Twin, save for Glen Perkins, on the current roster to play on the Gardenhire-era playoff teams, through the rebuilding phase and come out the other side. He has weathered the good ('04-10), the bad ('11-'14) and the ugly (2016) beside all Twins fans. During those years, Mauer's accolades include 6 All Star game appearances (including 3 starts in '08, '09 and '10), 3 batting titles, 5 Silver Slugger's, 3 Gold Gloves and an MVP award. There is little doubt that Mauer belongs in the Pantheon of Greatest Twins Ever with the likes of Killebrew, Carew and Kirby Puckett, each of whom would could also say had their own Twins era - a time defined purely by their greatness and contribution to the Twins. My Dad, a lifelong Twins fan, has engrained this mentality, subliminally, in me for years. When he recalls watching baseball in the early 1960's, he remembers Harmon Killebrew and his moonshot home runs. In the 1970's, it was the batsmithing of the great Rod Carew (more times than I care to remember, He'll ask me if I know Carew stole home 7 times in a single season.... Yes, Dad, I know). Similarly, growing up an avid Twins fan myself, Kirby Puckett was my hero. I remember vaguely the 1987 World Series, but vividly the 1991 Series. The catch. The home run. All etched into my brain with a chisel. I can say with all confidence that when he was hit with that Dennis Martinez fastball in 1995 my heart sank to the ground. It was the end of the Puckett Era. Now, we are at those same crossroads again. Mauer has, like it or not, defined this generation of Twins baseball. He's provided us all he had to give on the field, and off. I would, personally, love to see Joe hit and field his way through the 2018 season and beyond in a Twins uniform, and perhaps he will. He may very well be tendered a contract at the end of the 2018 season, perhaps even start the 2019 season, racking up counting stats and paving a road from Minneapolis to Cooperstown. Mauer's leg in the relay race is over, regardless if he plays one more year or five more years. The next generation has taken the baton, and I, like many of you I'm sure, am very excited for the next chapters. Whether the next face of Twins baseball is one of the new Core Four, or Royce Lewis, or another player we've yet to draft or aquire - it will be interesting to see with whom we'll attach our memories. The end of the Mauer Era is coming to a close. Here's to the 2018 season, Joe. Get out there and rake.
  10. Joe's numbers are bad this year. There's no sugar coating it. But, as a true believer, I always find ways to believe in Joe. Here's 2017's version. Joe's hitting more fly balls. This is one of the first stats to stabilize (no complaints about small sample sizes). This is very good if they aren't pop-ups. Right now, he's hitting 36.5% ground balls - his career rate is 50%. nearly 42% of his hits are fly balls. Joe's hitting the ball hard. His hard hit percentage is at 36.5%. Career is at 33.3%. His average exit velocity ain't Sano's, but it is 89.9 mph - good for 60th in the league. Joe's insane plate discipline is insaner. He's swinging at 19% of pitches out of zone (league average 29.1%) he's hitting 88.6% of the out-of-zone pitches he hits (league average 62.5%) for in-zone, he's swinging at 47.5% and hitting 97.7%!! League average is 66.7% swinging and 85.5% contact. It's all very weird that he's not getting results. My prediction: huge month of May. 340/380/450/830
  11. 1. Fact: Joe Mauer was drafted first in the 2001 MLB draft. No other player has ever been drafted first in the 2001 MLB draft. #GoSeminoles 2. Fact: Joe Mauer has as many RBIs in a Twins uniform as Justin Morneau. Also, he has slightly more passed balls. But also fewer ABs as a White Sox. So uh, call it a wash. #WhiSox 3. Fact: Joe Mauer is batting over .300 for the first time since 8-19-2013 when his cerebellum was stolen, most likely by aliens. #TheTruthIsOutThere 4. Fact: Joe Mauer has a hit in 11 straight games, and is batting .448 since national Duran Duran appreciation day. #HungryLikeTheWolf 5. Fast: Joe Mauer is 20 for 44 (.455) since the moon got out of the way of the freakin' sun. #LunarInterference 6. Fact: Joe Mauer is batting at least 1.000 over his last 5 ABs. #MathIsHard 7. Fact: Some teams would pay up to $22,999,999.99 - but not a goddamn penny more - for this kind of performance from a veteran in a playoff chase. #MauerIsOverpaid
  12. What are the odds that Joe Mauer will look to continue his career after his contract finally expires after 2018? The reason I ask because the other night they showed that Kirby Puckett is the all time Twins hit leader with 2304 & currently Mauer is 383 behind. With Mauer never having a 200 hit season ever he would almost have to play through 2020 to pass Puckett. I can't see the new FO wanting to even think about keeping him around even at a huge discount after 2018.
  13. Hey everyone, In order to help myself (and hopefully others) get through this long slog of a tough season, I've decided to blow off a little steam by creating a meme for every game that the Twins play from here on out, beginning with Thursday's 10-3 loss to the Marlins. Feel free to enjoy or ignore. Thanks, Gameday Memes 10-3 loss to the Marlins on 6/9/16
  14. A few photos from Tuesday night's and Wednesday afternoon's games in Oakland. Possibly one of the last photos taken of Miguel Sano before his trip to the 15-day DL. Notice the tear in his left trouser leg. Left hamstring injury next time up to bat... coincidence? I think not. "Sorry son, that's strike three. By the way, I forgot to say, welcome back to the majors." Gulls just wanna have fun. Another Dull relief appearance. God, I slay me. Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and (not pictured) Dennis Eckersley entertain the fans. Old Timers Day, I guess. On a day game after a night game, Kurt Suzuki apparently moonlights as one of the coaches. Pat Dean intimidates the other team with an 88-MPH warmup pea. This is probably either strike one, strike two, or strike three, to either the first or second or third batter Trevor May faced Wednesday. Pinch hitter Joe Mauer coaxing ball four, or maybe ball three, I forget, to start a short-lived ninth-inning rally. I could upload the shot of him taking the first-pitch strike, but we already kind of know what that looks like, don't we?
  15. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28952#commentMessage Appears this Baseball Prospectus writer lives in Minnesota. Read this article somewhat about Mauer, but more so about the recent passing of the authors young son. Made me cry and hug my 2 year old son. Thoughts and prayers to his family. Enjoyed this perspective below, especially since many of us here allow baseball to "steal" a lot of our time. I think that is obvious by our posts and evidently too thought out ideas and opinions. But, sometimes it's worth it. Last paragraph: "...the moral: this game pays you back. That’s some Field of Dreams bullshyt. Baseball mostly steals from us, steals our money (tons of our money), steals our time, steals the passion and intellectual energy we ought to put toward more important things. Every now and then, though, if you come to understand the game and the people who play it, come to know the inner workings of everything and the histories of all the figures filling up the uniforms, you do get a moment, a chance to feel something stretching beyond analytical interest or fanatical excitement. When those moments come, and I say this with some authority, I think, it’s worth it." Anyway, thought some of you might take something from it.
  16. Joe Mauer has been on base 33 consecutive games. This is very impressive. Keep on going, Joe. I have wondered about hitting streaks vs. on-base streaks; the latter seems more important, yet generally you don't hear about it. So I looked it up, and do you know who holds the MLB record? record? Ted Williams. 84 games. The man who missed 5 years of baseball during the prime of his career, while fighting in World War II and Korea would have amassed around 3500 hits and 700 home runs if not for that little blip. (Career career OBP: just .482.)
  17. Assuming the Twins decide to keep Plouffe around for another year or two, how will playing time likely be divided up at third, first, and DH? Plouffe is the most flexible as he is the only one who can play all three positions. I'm thinking Mauer will sit against most good lefties. This will open up the DH spot for someone else on those days. How often will Sano get to play third? Will he ever get any reps at first?
  18. How do the Twins perform on the corners compared to other team in the AL Central? Previous: Up the Middle First Base (ranked by wRC+) Tigers (1st) 176 Sox (2nd) 129 Royals (8th) 118 Indians(10th) 110 Twins (11th) 98 Cabrera is a monster. Abreau is very good. Santana will be better. I think Mauer can close the gap and approach Hosmer’s production in the second half. It is hard to imagine the Twins climbing out of fifth at 1B though. They really need Mauer to be a league average 1B. can he approach a 115-120 wRC+ in the second half? He hasn’t been there since 2013. On the farm: Vargas is back in AA trying to cut down his chase rate. If Mauer is injured it would likely be Sano or Plouffe that fill in at this point. Thirdbase Royals (3rd) 119 Twins (4th) 115 Tigers (13th) 76 Indians(14th) 75 Sox(15th) 75 Defensively: Royals(5th), Twins(7), Indians(9), Tigers(10), White Sox (13) Plouffe has turned out to be a very solid player. He and Dozier are fruits of a bad team that gave them plenty of at bats before they started making consistent contributions to the team. Moustakas is better and needed an even longer stretch before contributing. On the farm: Sano was just called up. The Twins need both Sano and Plouffe in the line up. Jose Martinez play 3B for Rochester. Left Field Royals (2nd) 127 Indians (3rd) 124 Tigers (4th) 117 Twins (10th) 85 Sox(14th) 73 Defensively: Royals(1), Tigers(6), Twins(9), White Sox(10), Indians (11) Rosario just surpassed Escobar in plate appearances by a Twin left fielder. Rosario’s performance would put the Twins a couple of slots up and near league average. He also boosts them defensively over the utility infielders and Arcia. The Twins can expect an improvement from this position in the second half of the season. There is still a significant gap to the production of Gordon, Brantley and Cespedes though. On the farm: Kepler is in AA and may get a shot. Walker continues to produce but isn’t on the 40. Arcia is heating up in AAA. Right Field Tigers(1) 153 Indians(9) 107 Twins(10) 103 Sox(12) 94 Royals(15) 50 Defensively: Royals(2), Tigers(5), Twins(9), Indians(10), White Sox(15) J.D. Martinez was a waiver claim at the same time the Twins were counting on Bartlett and Kubel. Hunter has performed just below league average in the field and at the plate. Can he keep going? It is hard to imagine that he will improve in the second half. Royals should close the gap with a healthy Rios. On the farm: Arcia could make a difference. He might help the Twins improve their overall production in RF if used well. A rested Hunter may perform better. I am not suggesting an all out platoon, but I do think Molitor can find a spot twice a week where Arcia can help. Harrison is doing well in AA. Designated Hitter Royals(5th) 122 Indians(8th) 113 Sox(10th) 97 Twins(13th) 89 Tigers(15th) 77 A healthy Martinez may flip the Tigers from last to first in DH production. Sano can make a huge impact for the Twins. Morales may regress. This is one area where AL Central teams can close the gap. Twins Outlook The Twins need to maintain their production from at 3B and RF. They really can’t expect better unless strategic use of Arcia inches them up the RF ranks. They can expect regular use of Rosario and Sano to improve production in LF and DH. They need Mauer to close the gap at 1B also. A 120 wRC+ is reasonable and his production could be the key to the Twins chances in the second half. Sano’s production in July can save the Twins from trading a prospect for a temporary solution at DH.
  19. The Minnesota Twins are regressing, make no doubt about it. After splitting a series with the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota lost two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers and were swept by the Kansas City Royals at Target Field, allowing Kansas City to pass them in the standings for first place in the division.The team downplayed the importance of the Royals series, saying that it was June and nobody is securing anything right now. “I’ve had that approach where I need a World Series ring on April 1,” said Torii Hunter on June 7, “and that never happens.” “You gotta be a little careful. You’re in June, and you’ve put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in June,” echoed manager Paul Molitor, “but that’s not nearly what it means to play meaningful games in August and September, so you’ve gotta keep your perspective.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that people are focusing on the Twins in June — after all, in the past few seasons the team was collapsing by this point and fans were losing interest. Instead, the Twins played in front of a sellout crowd in the second game the Brewers were in town and 100,000 people showed up for the entire three-game series. Granted, that number is bolstered by the number of Wisconsinites who crossed the border, but that was the first sellout since the team’s miserable performance on Opening Day, and it's first 100,000-fan series since August 2013. People are taking notice, even if they think the team’s hot start will fade over time. And fade it has. Kyle Gibson, owner of a sub-3.00 ERA to begin the season, came back to earth in his latest start against Kansas City. Joe Mauer wasn’t going to hit .400 with runners in scoring position all season long. Trevor Plouffe started the year with a massive slump, caught fire and then slumped again. Kurt Suzuki played well in a contract year last season, but has returned to the .230 hitter he was with the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics the past few years. Sometimes it’s not individual performance that evens out, but rather the sum of the parts that cancel each other out. Mike Pelfrey has maintained his status as an ace, bucking the recent trend of regression, but as the No. 9 overall selection in 2005, he was supposed to be a top of the rotation guy. Phil Hughes was a top prospect in the Yankees organization, but was pilloried once he got to New York because he didn’t live up to expectations. A higher right field fence and more forgiving fan base provided a better environment for him last year, but he’s off to a slow start and isn’t pitching nearly as well as he was last season. Similarly, Aaron Thompson and Blaine Boyer have been revelations in the bullpen and have carried much of the load when it comes to relief pitching because Brian Duensing and Tim Stauffer were struggling. Stauffer was ultimately designated for assignment, meaning, of the two offseason bullpen acquisitions, one has panned out so far and the other hasn’t. Nobody is shocked that the Twins are taking a step back. The team’s 20-win May was historically good, but nobody who showed up for Opening Day and saw the team dismantled 12-3 has forgotten about that, nor have they forgotten that Minnesota started 1-6 and hasn’t had success against the Detroit Tigers yet. All good teams go through rough patches, and the Twins have plenty of holes that indicated they could not maintain an AL Central-leading pace all year long. Plouffe and Suzuki are No. 6 and 7 hitters being forced into the middle of the lineup because the middle of the order talent — Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas — have spent most or all of the year in the minors. Sano is at Double-A and won’t be rushed up; Arcia just came off the disabled list and was immediately placed in Triple-A; Vargas just got a call from Rochester and isn’t ready to hit in the middle of the lineup. That’s the nature of player development and progression. Because the team’s prospects aren’t major league ready yet, Molitor is forced to go with a makeshift lineup for the time being. This team goes as the youth does, plain and simple. An ideal lineup of players currently on the team or in the system would be Brian Dozier — a revelation himself — hitting leadoff, Hunter in the 2-hole, Mauer hitting third, a combination of Sano, Vargas and Arcia in the middle, Plouffe and Suzuki hitting sixth and seventh, and then defensively-savvy Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks constituting the bottom of the order. That doesn’t even include Byron Buxton, who probably will take the aging, yet productive, Hunter’s spot at the appropriate time. It’s not hard to envision the Twins putting it together. Hunter is having a great season, but he may just want to end on a high note when it’s over or finish his career as a fourth outfielder, riding what is hopefully a wave of success in Minnesota. He has not only been a great locker room presence this year, but his seemingly ageless production hasn’t forced the Twins’ hand with Buxton — he’ll get the call when he’s ready rather than out of necessity to fill a glaring need. Sano is a player the Twins may have to rush to the major leagues. Plouffe’s defense has taken the pressure off of the Dominican prospect in that aspect — there’s no guarantee Sano will be a major league third baseman, although he should get ample tries to make it work given that he has more value there than at first base or DH — but he’s still inconsistent at the plate and more of a No. 6 hitter than a cleanup guy anyway. Sano also is further away from the big leagues than Buxton, and is likely to surface later in the season. Arcia possesses 30 home run power but is undisciplined at the plate, and prone to temper tantrums away from it. Last season he went Bo Jackson on his bat after striking out, splitting it in half over his leg — a testament to his strength as a human being, but also justifying his label as a head case. If the Twins can get him straightened out, they have a bona fide power hitter on their hands. If they cannot, he may join Chris Parmelee as a man who could hit the ball out of the park, but was never able to make contact with it on a regular basis. Of course if Arcia doesn’t pan out and Sano and Vargas do, Minnesota still has it’s beef in the middle of the order. And for the time being, as long as the rotation holds its own, the Twins can steal a couple wins here and there knowing the starter won’t be out by the fourth inning. Trevor May and Kyle Gibson have proven that they can go deep into games even when they don’t have their best stuff. Hughes has had slow starts in the past and overcome them. Ricky Nolasco showed some promise early in the season and should be better after returning from injury. And, even if he cools off a bit, Pelfrey is supposed to be a top of the rotation pitcher, so he just shouldn't go stone cold and he’ll likely be fine. The point of all this is that there are a lot of moving parts for the Twins. Not only are personnel changes sure to come as prospects develop, but on any given team players get hurt, others slump and some catch fire. At the beginning of the season, both local and national media saw another losing season on the horizon. Molitor emphasized immediate success at his introductory press conference, but didn’t appear to have the personnel to back his ambition. Sports Illustrated had the team at 67 wins, ESPN had 68, and Grantland and Yahoo and everyone under the sun had them in last place. After the team’s success in May, the tune changed to “well, the team has wins banked now, so they’re gonna be around .500.” What does that mean, “banked”? What is preventing this team from a 10-game losing streak at some point? The team has lost five of the last six games they’ve played. On the other hand, if their prospects develop and the rotation stays healthy and the bullpen is supplemented by players like Michael Tonkin, Lester Oliveros, Zach Jones and Nick Burdi, why can’t they be more than a .500 team this year? What is the mean? Is it the 60-70 wins projected at the beginning of the season? Is it 80-82? Twins GM Terry Ryan asserts that the Twins are just winning more close games simply because the defense is better and the bullpen is closing out games, especially closer Glen Perkins, who has been perfect so far. He also says that defensive metrics are rudimentary at this point, and to some extent he’s right. In baseball, a game where everything seems so certain, especially in the Moneyball era, there’s a lot about this team we don’t know. One certainty, however, is that before the season began, management felt they had a winner on their hands. “Things can change in this game very dramatically at this level, very quickly,” Molitor said back in November. “I’ll want it to be something that’s supportive amongst itself, leadership from players, accountability, certainly but creating a vision that they believe that they can win now because things can change very, very rapidly, and I hope that we can set that tone in motion.” In many ways it already has. This story was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Tom Schreier writes for 105 The Ticket’s Cold Omaha. Tune into the Wake Up Call every Sunday at 8:00 am to hear the crew break down this week in Minnesota sports. Follow Tom Schreier @tschreier3 Click here to view the article
  20. The team downplayed the importance of the Royals series, saying that it was June and nobody is securing anything right now. “I’ve had that approach where I need a World Series ring on April 1,” said Torii Hunter on June 7, “and that never happens.” “You gotta be a little careful. You’re in June, and you’ve put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in June,” echoed manager Paul Molitor, “but that’s not nearly what it means to play meaningful games in August and September, so you’ve gotta keep your perspective.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that people are focusing on the Twins in June — after all, in the past few seasons the team was collapsing by this point and fans were losing interest. Instead, the Twins played in front of a sellout crowd in the second game the Brewers were in town and 100,000 people showed up for the entire three-game series. Granted, that number is bolstered by the number of Wisconsinites who crossed the border, but that was the first sellout since the team’s miserable performance on Opening Day, and it's first 100,000-fan series since August 2013. People are taking notice, even if they think the team’s hot start will fade over time. And fade it has. Kyle Gibson, owner of a sub-3.00 ERA to begin the season, came back to earth in his latest start against Kansas City. Joe Mauer wasn’t going to hit .400 with runners in scoring position all season long. Trevor Plouffe started the year with a massive slump, caught fire and then slumped again. Kurt Suzuki played well in a contract year last season, but has returned to the .230 hitter he was with the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics the past few years. Sometimes it’s not individual performance that evens out, but rather the sum of the parts that cancel each other out. Mike Pelfrey has maintained his status as an ace, bucking the recent trend of regression, but as the No. 9 overall selection in 2005, he was supposed to be a top of the rotation guy. Phil Hughes was a top prospect in the Yankees organization, but was pilloried once he got to New York because he didn’t live up to expectations. A higher right field fence and more forgiving fan base provided a better environment for him last year, but he’s off to a slow start and isn’t pitching nearly as well as he was last season. Similarly, Aaron Thompson and Blaine Boyer have been revelations in the bullpen and have carried much of the load when it comes to relief pitching because Brian Duensing and Tim Stauffer were struggling. Stauffer was ultimately designated for assignment, meaning, of the two offseason bullpen acquisitions, one has panned out so far and the other hasn’t. Nobody is shocked that the Twins are taking a step back. The team’s 20-win May was historically good, but nobody who showed up for Opening Day and saw the team dismantled 12-3 has forgotten about that, nor have they forgotten that Minnesota started 1-6 and hasn’t had success against the Detroit Tigers yet. All good teams go through rough patches, and the Twins have plenty of holes that indicated they could not maintain an AL Central-leading pace all year long. Plouffe and Suzuki are No. 6 and 7 hitters being forced into the middle of the lineup because the middle of the order talent — Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas — have spent most or all of the year in the minors. Sano is at Double-A and won’t be rushed up; Arcia just came off the disabled list and was immediately placed in Triple-A; Vargas just got a call from Rochester and isn’t ready to hit in the middle of the lineup. That’s the nature of player development and progression. Because the team’s prospects aren’t major league ready yet, Molitor is forced to go with a makeshift lineup for the time being. This team goes as the youth does, plain and simple. An ideal lineup of players currently on the team or in the system would be Brian Dozier — a revelation himself — hitting leadoff, Hunter in the 2-hole, Mauer hitting third, a combination of Sano, Vargas and Arcia in the middle, Plouffe and Suzuki hitting sixth and seventh, and then defensively-savvy Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks constituting the bottom of the order. That doesn’t even include Byron Buxton, who probably will take the aging, yet productive, Hunter’s spot at the appropriate time. It’s not hard to envision the Twins putting it together. Hunter is having a great season, but he may just want to end on a high note when it’s over or finish his career as a fourth outfielder, riding what is hopefully a wave of success in Minnesota. He has not only been a great locker room presence this year, but his seemingly ageless production hasn’t forced the Twins’ hand with Buxton — he’ll get the call when he’s ready rather than out of necessity to fill a glaring need. Sano is a player the Twins may have to rush to the major leagues. Plouffe’s defense has taken the pressure off of the Dominican prospect in that aspect — there’s no guarantee Sano will be a major league third baseman, although he should get ample tries to make it work given that he has more value there than at first base or DH — but he’s still inconsistent at the plate and more of a No. 6 hitter than a cleanup guy anyway. Sano also is further away from the big leagues than Buxton, and is likely to surface later in the season. Arcia possesses 30 home run power but is undisciplined at the plate, and prone to temper tantrums away from it. Last season he went Bo Jackson on his bat after striking out, splitting it in half over his leg — a testament to his strength as a human being, but also justifying his label as a head case. If the Twins can get him straightened out, they have a bona fide power hitter on their hands. If they cannot, he may join Chris Parmelee as a man who could hit the ball out of the park, but was never able to make contact with it on a regular basis. Of course if Arcia doesn’t pan out and Sano and Vargas do, Minnesota still has it’s beef in the middle of the order. And for the time being, as long as the rotation holds its own, the Twins can steal a couple wins here and there knowing the starter won’t be out by the fourth inning. Trevor May and Kyle Gibson have proven that they can go deep into games even when they don’t have their best stuff. Hughes has had slow starts in the past and overcome them. Ricky Nolasco showed some promise early in the season and should be better after returning from injury. And, even if he cools off a bit, Pelfrey is supposed to be a top of the rotation pitcher, so he just shouldn't go stone cold and he’ll likely be fine. The point of all this is that there are a lot of moving parts for the Twins. Not only are personnel changes sure to come as prospects develop, but on any given team players get hurt, others slump and some catch fire. At the beginning of the season, both local and national media saw another losing season on the horizon. Molitor emphasized immediate success at his introductory press conference, but didn’t appear to have the personnel to back his ambition. Sports Illustrated had the team at 67 wins, ESPN had 68, and Grantland and Yahoo and everyone under the sun had them in last place. After the team’s success in May, the tune changed to “well, the team has wins banked now, so they’re gonna be around .500.” What does that mean, “banked”? What is preventing this team from a 10-game losing streak at some point? The team has lost five of the last six games they’ve played. On the other hand, if their prospects develop and the rotation stays healthy and the bullpen is supplemented by players like Michael Tonkin, Lester Oliveros, Zach Jones and Nick Burdi, why can’t they be more than a .500 team this year? What is the mean? Is it the 60-70 wins projected at the beginning of the season? Is it 80-82? Twins GM Terry Ryan asserts that the Twins are just winning more close games simply because the defense is better and the bullpen is closing out games, especially closer Glen Perkins, who has been perfect so far. He also says that defensive metrics are rudimentary at this point, and to some extent he’s right. In baseball, a game where everything seems so certain, especially in the Moneyball era, there’s a lot about this team we don’t know. One certainty, however, is that before the season began, management felt they had a winner on their hands. “Things can change in this game very dramatically at this level, very quickly,” Molitor said back in November. “I’ll want it to be something that’s supportive amongst itself, leadership from players, accountability, certainly but creating a vision that they believe that they can win now because things can change very, very rapidly, and I hope that we can set that tone in motion.” In many ways it already has. This story was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Tom Schreier writes for 105 The Ticket’s Cold Omaha. Tune into the Wake Up Call every Sunday at 8:00 am to hear the crew break down this week in Minnesota sports. Follow Tom Schreier @tschreier3
  21. With his second homer last night, Joe Mauer moved into a tie with several others for most homers as a left handed hitter. No left handed or switch hitter has hit more than two homers from the left handed batter's box. There is obviously a need for more power from LH hitters. Can it be Arcia or Vargas? Someone on the roster or should they go outside the organization?
  22. Third thread in three days--hoo boy! I have to give Brian a lot of credit for being able to provide topics every day. There are some talkers going on with the Twins, so I will bring them up along with my own observation. 1) I just heard that Mauer is hitting second tonight. I have no problem with this except that there really isn't a legit #3 hitter. Molitor is going with Plouffe at #3, not my preference, but I guess shaking it up is a good idea. Joe hit like a #3 hitter for about three weeks IMHO. His slump has been longer, but not as deep as Plouffe's. 2) Polanco is in the lineup, batting ninth. I wasn't in favor of him assuming the shortstop position and I'm still not convinced he is a true shortstop. He is a more of a sure thing as a hitter and I doubt he will be overmatched offensively. 3) Iron man Kurt Suzuki is catching again. I have seen more balls get by Zuke in the past couple weeks than he permitted last year. At least two of May's wild pitches (and maybe all three) should have been blocked IMHO. He isn't doing much offensively either. Of all the positions on the team, I believe upgrading the catcher position is the most troubling. The Twins don't have a prospect at catcher that projects as a satisfactory hitter and a good defender behind the plate. If the Twins stay in the race, I think they should consider trading for a catcher (I have been beating the drum for Jonathan Lucroy). 4) Gibson on the mound. Molitor (I don't call a grown man "Molly") moved Gibson in front of Milone, in part because of his success against the Royals. I came away much impressed with his outing last Friday. He allowed three homers for five runs in the first three innings, then completely shut down the Brew Crew, retiring the last 13 hitters, with only one ball leaving the infield. 5) The Royals. Another thread is pointing out the better talent among the position players and the absolute superiority of the Royals' bullpen. True, oh so true. Bullpens come and go, but KC has depth in the 'pen, so even if somebody flames out, the Royals figure to have probably the best bullpen in the majors. I would like to point out where the Twins have really improved--their starters have the fourth-best ERA in the AL. There have been a lot more innings pitched by the starters, protecting the Twins suspect bullpen. Their numbers are far better than the Royals. BTW, the Twins and Royals have scored approximately the same number of runs, so while KC might have the better position players, it hasn't translated like that on offense. I predicted a Twins win both on Monday and Tuesday. No prediction today. Time for some bats to break loose. Here are the lineups: Kansas City Escobar ss Moustakas 3b Cain cf Hosmer 1b Morales dh Gordon lf Rios rf Perez c Infante 2b Volquez p (4-4 3.26 ERA) Minnesota Dozier 2b Mauer 1b Plouffe 3b Hunter rf Suzuki c Vargas dh Robinson lf Hicks cf Polanco ss Gibson p (4-3 3.00 ERA)
  23. As the season has gone on, I've changed my desktop background several times. It seems to be a jinx. I started with Dozier, but when his average plunged below .200 in April, I switched to Mauer. Mauer was well over .300 but slipped to about .280 when I switched to Plouffe. Trevor is now struggling, so today I switched to Hunter. Should I have picked Stauffer or Duensing?
  24. http://i.imgur.com/WIw2U8Om.jpg I was having a discussion with an old friend of mine over a beer last night. (I was drinking a Guinness and he was having a Bell’s Two-Hearted.) We were talking about Joe Mauer, and we had very different perceptions about what kind of year number 7 was having. As I recalled several key hits he’d had over the last week, I thought he was doing fine overall. It seemed to me he was delivering more often at the plate when the Twins needed it. My friend, however, thought Mauer was having his worst season ever. How could we have such different views? Maybe I’m getting too old and can’t remember much anymore. But, he was born four months before me, so maybe it was his memory that was failing. Looking to prove my sanity, I decided to leverage Baseball Reference’s Play Index to take a better look. (all stats as of 5/26) First the obvious stuff. Mauer’s slash line for the year is the lowest of his career overall (.271/.333/.371). He had a slightly lower slugging percentage in 2011, but otherwise they are all career lows. This clearly supported my friend’s view of Mauer’s year. But, what about Joe’s productivity with runners on base? Didn't he clear the bases with a single in Pittsburgh, or was that all a dream? Mauer’s stats with someone on base: http://i.imgur.com/CU5J3RJ.png .378/.467/.500! Those are outstanding numbers! It looks like Joe has been productive at the plate this year. But, if these numbers are that good, how are they when the bases are empty? http://i.imgur.com/Mr1S1PZ.png Ugh! Those numbers are horrible no matter how you want to spin it. Roughly the same sample size for each, and even though it's early in the season, that’s a crazy difference! .378/.467/.500 vs .188/.212/.271. Well, maybe we both had a valid point and didn't need to look into retirement homes quite yet. But with that solved, I was still wondering what was happening. I can’t ask number 7 because I’m just a regular Joe (get it?) drinking at the 573 club and don’t have clubhouse access. But, that won’t stop me from digging further into the stats to see if there are any clues to the reason for this huge dichotomy. When there’s nobody on base, Mauer has 45 plate appearances with two outs, 28 with one out, and 26 with no outs. Drilling into the largest set, the plate appearances with two outs, give us a little more information. http://i.imgur.com/memCRIX.png He has 19 strikeouts with the bases empty, and 13 of them are with two outs. That’s 68% even though it’s only 45% of his plate appearances. Maybe he’s trying to swing for the fences in that situation, and coming up short? If he’s being more aggressive, we should probably see that in the number of walks. In fact, he only has one walk in 45 plate appearances. One! Checking his overall numbers with the bases empty, he only has three walks in 99 PAs. That doesn’t make sense, Joe walks a fair amount doesn’t he? Yes, Mauer still works the walk quite a bit. In 90 PAs Mauer has 13 walks (plus four intentional passes) with runners on. Checking the rest of Mauer’s numbers with the bases empty, they aren’t much better. http://i.imgur.com/p3ii5Sf.png Some improvement, but still really poor numbers by any standard. So, what does this mean? In my opinion, it shows that this year Mauer is very focused with runners on, and is outstanding at doing whatever he can to contribute. Whether it's walks, productive outs, advancing runners or driving them in, he's doing it at a stellar rate so far. However, I think it also shows that Mauer is taking a very different approach when there aren’t any runners on base, and approach appears to be to his detriment so far. As good as his performance is with runners, his performance is equally bad with the bases empty. It's like a tail of two Mauer's this year. Why? We can only guess. I have my own theories, as do you I bet. Maybe we can chat about them sometime in the 573 club over a Surly. Thanks for reading. Cheers! twitter: @kamarainen
  25. With all the TD regulars around, there isn't much to add about baseball. I haven't seen Halsey, Thrylos, or John, but all are indicating they will be watching the minor league intra-squad game today. Look forward to meeting and meeting up with you guys! I believe Ash could be there as well. A couple of positives: Graham looked very good yesterday and Mauer got three hits, including a gapper to right-center. Pinto got beat up by Adam Jones's follow through (not good). That's all for now. Hope to see a bunch of you in person today.
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