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  1. It’s becoming one of the most tired takes in Twins Territory. Not every player that can potentially leave the organization is going to turn into the next David Ortiz. So, why doesn’t Byron Buxton fit that mold? Over the weekend, the Star Tribune sent out a headline to subscribers that said, “Twins can’t let Buxton leave and become their new-age David Ortiz.” For those unfamiliar, the Twins famously non-tendered David Ortiz following the 2002 season. He signed with Boston and went on to have a legendary career culminating in multiple World Series titles, 10 All-Star selections, and seven silver sluggers. It was one of the worst decisions in franchise history, but baseball is a funny game. Ortiz was a very different player than Byron Buxton when the Twins non-tendered him. From 1997-2002, he averaged 76 games per season with the club and hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. There were multiple reasons to let Ortiz go, including he was set to make close to $2 million in arbitration, the team had Matt LeCroy to fill the designated hitter role, and they wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. When David Ortiz played his final series in Minnesota, Twins GM Terry Ryan didn’t beat around the bush regarding the Ortiz decision. “Obviously, it’s a situation that I watch, and I’ve observed, and I see what he’s done, and I see what he’s meant to the Boston Red Sox. Ok, I screwed it up.” That’s easy for Ryan to say at this point, but it wasn’t as big of a mistake as it has been made out to be. Fans know Buxton is good, but Ortiz was still an unknown quantity when he left the organization. In his seventh season, Buxton has played in 38 more games in a Twins uniform than Ortiz. During that time, Buxton has been worth 16.2 WAR while Ortiz was worth 2.6 WAR. Ortiz went on to have four seasons with a 5 WAR or higher, a mark Buxton has yet to reach. The Buxton contract discussions seem like a no-win situation for the team’s followers. Fans are going to be disappointed if he leaves and plays well elsewhere. If he stays, fans will expect him to stay healthy and play at an MVP level. Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is on the field, and that is something Ortiz couldn’t say during his Twins tenure. Baseball is a sport where one move doesn’t alter the course of a franchise. Ortiz’s release was a poor baseball decision at the time, but the Twins were still relevant for nearly a decade after Ortiz left. Nothing says his career would have followed the same trajectory if he had stayed in a Twins uniform. The same unknowns circle around Buxton and his future. Every player that leaves Minnesota isn’t going to go on to have a Hall of Fame career. Ortiz is the exception and not the rule. In the end, Buxton’s situation is much more complicated than the decision surrounding Ortiz, and that’s what makes the Buxton decision one of the most intriguing in the months ahead. Do you see any connection between the Buxton decision and the Ortiz decision? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Over the weekend, the Star Tribune sent out a headline to subscribers that said, “Twins can’t let Buxton leave and become their new-age David Ortiz.” For those unfamiliar, the Twins famously non-tendered David Ortiz following the 2002 season. He signed with Boston and went on to have a legendary career culminating in multiple World Series titles, 10 All-Star selections, and seven silver sluggers. It was one of the worst decisions in franchise history, but baseball is a funny game. Ortiz was a very different player than Byron Buxton when the Twins non-tendered him. From 1997-2002, he averaged 76 games per season with the club and hit .266/.348/.461 (.809) with 169 extra-base hits in 455 games. There were multiple reasons to let Ortiz go, including he was set to make close to $2 million in arbitration, the team had Matt LeCroy to fill the designated hitter role, and they wanted a roster spot to make a Rule 5 pick. When David Ortiz played his final series in Minnesota, Twins GM Terry Ryan didn’t beat around the bush regarding the Ortiz decision. “Obviously, it’s a situation that I watch, and I’ve observed, and I see what he’s done, and I see what he’s meant to the Boston Red Sox. Ok, I screwed it up.” That’s easy for Ryan to say at this point, but it wasn’t as big of a mistake as it has been made out to be. Fans know Buxton is good, but Ortiz was still an unknown quantity when he left the organization. In his seventh season, Buxton has played in 38 more games in a Twins uniform than Ortiz. During that time, Buxton has been worth 16.2 WAR while Ortiz was worth 2.6 WAR. Ortiz went on to have four seasons with a 5 WAR or higher, a mark Buxton has yet to reach. The Buxton contract discussions seem like a no-win situation for the team’s followers. Fans are going to be disappointed if he leaves and plays well elsewhere. If he stays, fans will expect him to stay healthy and play at an MVP level. Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is on the field, and that is something Ortiz couldn’t say during his Twins tenure. Baseball is a sport where one move doesn’t alter the course of a franchise. Ortiz’s release was a poor baseball decision at the time, but the Twins were still relevant for nearly a decade after Ortiz left. Nothing says his career would have followed the same trajectory if he had stayed in a Twins uniform. The same unknowns circle around Buxton and his future. Every player that leaves Minnesota isn’t going to go on to have a Hall of Fame career. Ortiz is the exception and not the rule. In the end, Buxton’s situation is much more complicated than the decision surrounding Ortiz, and that’s what makes the Buxton decision one of the most intriguing in the months ahead. Do you see any connection between the Buxton decision and the Ortiz decision? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Minnesota is nearing the end of its worst season since 2016, and this club ranks near the top as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. So, how does this season rank compared to other recent disappointments? Inconsistent pitching and injuries have been just some of the issues for the 2021 Twins. There have been some positives as with any season, but it’s hard not to be disappointed as expectations were high this year. Here’s a look at some of the other disappointing teams from recent years. 2011 Twins (Record: 63-99) The 2010 Twins had opened Target Field with a bang, including winning the division by six games over the White Sox. It was the team’s second consecutive AL Central title, and there were many that thought the Twins would be fighting for a three-peat. It’s easy to find connections between the 2021 Twins and the issues faced by the 2011 squad. Justin Morneau struggled to return after a concussion ended his 2010 campaign. Joe Mauer dealt with bilateral leg weakness and back problems. Players like Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka were relied on to fill full-time roles. Minnesota’s starting staff struggled to reproduce their numbers from 2010, with Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and Francisco Liriano all posting ERA totals of 4.30 or higher. 2007 Twins (Record: 79-83) The 2007 Twins didn’t implode like the 2010 season, but they were indeed a disappointment. Back in 2006, the Twins put together a magical season with Justin Morneau being named AL MVP, Joe Mauer winning his first batting title, and Johan Santana earning his second Cy Young. It was only the fourth time the team had won over 95 games since moving to Minnesota. During the 2007 season, Minnesota finished just under .500, but that was closer to last place than first place in the division. Outside of Johan Santana, the team left fans wanting more. Jason Bartlett finished with the highest WAR among position players, and the pitching staff took a step back. Terry Ryan stepped aside from the GM role in the middle of September. This left Bill Smith to trade Santana and watch Torii Hunter walk away in free agency. The franchise was heading in a new direction. 1993 Twins (Record: 71-91) Minnesota had won the World Series in 1991, and the club finished with 90-wins in 1992. Many of the core pieces of the championship club were still in the prime of their careers. There was hope the team could bounce back in 1993 and keep their winning window open. However, the club was entering a stretch of nine straight losing seasons. During the 1993 season, many of the team’s issues were on the pitching side of the ball. Out of the team’s regulars, six of the nine batters had an OPS+ of 100 or more, including Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek with 120 OPS+ totals. Every starting pitcher with over 100 innings had an ERA north of 4.00, with Willie Banks being the lone starter to post an ERA+ greater than 100. It was Hrbek’s last season of over 100 games, and Puckett was only two years away from being forced to retire. The end of an era came more quickly than many would have anticipated. Which of these seasons was most disappointing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Inconsistent pitching and injuries have been just some of the issues for the 2021 Twins. There have been some positives as with any season, but it’s hard not to be disappointed as expectations were high this year. Here’s a look at some of the other disappointing teams from recent years. 2011 Twins (Record: 63-99) The 2010 Twins had opened Target Field with a bang, including winning the division by six games over the White Sox. It was the team’s second consecutive AL Central title, and there were many that thought the Twins would be fighting for a three-peat. It’s easy to find connections between the 2021 Twins and the issues faced by the 2011 squad. Justin Morneau struggled to return after a concussion ended his 2010 campaign. Joe Mauer dealt with bilateral leg weakness and back problems. Players like Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka were relied on to fill full-time roles. Minnesota’s starting staff struggled to reproduce their numbers from 2010, with Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and Francisco Liriano all posting ERA totals of 4.30 or higher. 2007 Twins (Record: 79-83) The 2007 Twins didn’t implode like the 2010 season, but they were indeed a disappointment. Back in 2006, the Twins put together a magical season with Justin Morneau being named AL MVP, Joe Mauer winning his first batting title, and Johan Santana earning his second Cy Young. It was only the fourth time the team had won over 95 games since moving to Minnesota. During the 2007 season, Minnesota finished just under .500, but that was closer to last place than first place in the division. Outside of Johan Santana, the team left fans wanting more. Jason Bartlett finished with the highest WAR among position players, and the pitching staff took a step back. Terry Ryan stepped aside from the GM role in the middle of September. This left Bill Smith to trade Santana and watch Torii Hunter walk away in free agency. The franchise was heading in a new direction. 1993 Twins (Record: 71-91) Minnesota had won the World Series in 1991, and the club finished with 90-wins in 1992. Many of the core pieces of the championship club were still in the prime of their careers. There was hope the team could bounce back in 1993 and keep their winning window open. However, the club was entering a stretch of nine straight losing seasons. During the 1993 season, many of the team’s issues were on the pitching side of the ball. Out of the team’s regulars, six of the nine batters had an OPS+ of 100 or more, including Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek with 120 OPS+ totals. Every starting pitcher with over 100 innings had an ERA north of 4.00, with Willie Banks being the lone starter to post an ERA+ greater than 100. It was Hrbek’s last season of over 100 games, and Puckett was only two years away from being forced to retire. The end of an era came more quickly than many would have anticipated. Which of these seasons was most disappointing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. "I'm done. I'm hanging 'em up." That's what Brian Dozier told media members on Thursday morning. In addition, his former Twins managers Ron Gardenhire and Paul Molitor, as well as former GM Terry Ryan were on the call. Eduardo Escobar called in briefly from Arizona, on the practice field. Josh Willingham called in as well. It wasn't easy, but Dozier said that he did talk to a lot of players this offseason who have retired and that decision. "Tough decision. Many prayers went into this, especially after last season. I kind of made up my mind a couple of months ago." He had opportunities to play after the Mets released him last year, but he noted: "I told my wife, 'This COVID thing is the worst thing that ever happened to us because I got to be home and wake my daughter up every single morning. I love doing this. There is nothing in baseball that has given me this happiness and joy.'" He talked to some teams this past offseason, but he decided that he was ready to be done playing. "My wife? She wanted me to play until I was 50!" he joked. ---------------------------------------------- Brian Dozier joined the Twins organization in June of 2009 after the Twins drafted him as a 'senior sign' out of Southern Mississippi in the draft. He was coming off an injury and after five GCL games moved up to Elizabethton. In 2010, he split the season between Beloit and Ft. Myers, but 2011 was his breakout year as a prospect. He began the season with 49 games in Ft. Myers before jumping to New Britain for the final 78 games. Combined, he hit .320/.399/.491 (.890) with 33 doubles, 12 triples and nine home runs. He also stole 24 bases. The Twins, and Twins Daily, named him the Twins minor league hitter/player of the year. He debuted with the Twins in May of 2012, just a week before his 25th birthday. He played in 84 game and hit .234 (.603) with 11 doubles and six homers. However, he was sent down and did not receive a September call up. Dozier looks back at it now and says, "I thought I would, but it was the best thing that happened to me because it made me work even harder." That offseason, he worked a lot with Paul Molitor on moving to second base. He also gives a lol of credit to Tom Brunansky for working with him offensively. He was the Twins starting second baseman on Opening Day 2013 and remained in that role until he was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline in 2018. In between, he become one of the more prolific power hitters in Twins history. He hit 18 home runs in 2013, a record for Twins second baseman at the time. He then broke that record with 23 homers in 2014 in 2015. He made the All Star team that season. In 2016, he became just the fourth second baseman to hit 40 homers. He hit 42 total home runs that season. In 2017, he came back with 34 homers. In addition, he won a Gold Glove Award. Since the Twins traded him, he has had his struggles. He hit just .182 in 47 games for the 2018 Dodgers, but he provided nine doubles and five home runs. He played in the World Series. In 2019, he hit .238 with 20 doubles and 20 homers for the Nationals team that went on the win the World Series. And he danced... and sang... usually shirtless. He played in seven games for the Mets in 2020. In seven seasons with the Twins, Dozier played in 955 games. He hit .248/.325/.447 (.772) with 202 doubles, 167 home runs, 593 runs scored and 491 RBI. He had four straight 20 double, 20 homer seasons. But Dozier was fantastic on and off the field. From the Twins press release< "Dozier’s hustle on the field was matched by an electric personality off it that inspired camaraderie across the organization and the sport. Among other honors, he was the recipient of the 2013 Mike Augustin “Media Good Guy” Award by the Twin Cities Chapter of the BBWAA, the Twins’ 2014 Heart and Hustle Award by the MLB Players Alumni Association, the 2015 Carl R. Pohlad Award for Twins Outstanding Community Service and the 2016-17 Bob Allison Award for Twins leadership." On Thursday, he is retiring. The 33-year-old lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with his wife and two young kids. His daughter Reese is two years old, and his son Rip was born in mid-December. He will keep busy. He plans to travel a lot and visit friends from the organizations he's played in. He said he's had a real estate companies for years. He also has an investment company. He golfs and hopes to play in several tournaments. "I play the piano every day, but other than that, no music for me. One of the biggest things that I look forward to is hunting more. Not necessarily hunting. I loved planting food plots in the summertime when I was in high school, and I haven't been able to do that. I'm looking forward to that. I'm heading to my hunting camp in a couple of weeks to plant some corn. I'm looking forward to that. Haven't been able to do that in about 15 years. A lot of hunting. A lot of golf. But most than that, being a full-time dad." Comments from the press conference: Eduardo Escobar: "I want to say Congrats, man. Thank you so much. You're the best. I love you. You know how much I respect you. You taught me to play this game the right way, and that's why I'm still playing today. You are the best. God bless you and your family!" Ron Gardenhire: "I got to watch you first-hand in that dugout, watch you grow up and break into the big leagues. Handled everything so easily. One of the nicest people I've ever been around in my life.... Of course, after I left he started hitting bombs into the seats. He waited..." Paul Molitor: "I remember a trip out there in Double-A, and the week I watched your team, you were the best player on the field no matter who else was playing. You did it all. You made teammates better. You carried yourself tremendously well for where you were at in your career." Molitor: "I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to manage you." Molitor: "In addition to your performance, how you took care of your teammates, and made everybody better. You were never selfish. You understood the humility that it takes to be successful." Terry Ryan: "I followed you from Elizabethton to Beloit to Ft. Myers and you didn't hit a home run. So I'm thinking, well, we've got a shortstop here that has no power, and he's not really a burner, and all of a sudden you're hitting second base and hitting 42 home runs. Brian, I couldn't be more proud of the things you've accomplished and provided to the Twins organization. You went on the win a World Series. You had an outstanding career, and you were a great person involved in the Twins organization, and I was just happy to be a small part of it." Brian Dozier: "The people that I played for, they demanded you play the game the right way. I'm telling you, I've gotten to see other places throughout my career, but it was a blessing playing for Minnesota who takes it above and beyond, and it starts with Terry Ryan. You carry yourself the right way not only on the field but off it. It wasn't something they just suggested. It was demanded." Brian Dozier: "It sucks to say, but I kind of fell out of love with playing the game, but I always loved baseball." Brian Dozier: "Right now, I might possibly pursue managing in the big leagues the next couple of years. I've learned a lot from all the managers I played for, and my wife and I have talked about it. The playing side I kind of fell out of love with, but I fell in love with possibly pursuing [managing]." Brian Dozier to Twins Fans: "I tell people all the time, and my wife and I talk about it all the time, that (Minnesota) is my second home. It always will be. I said a farewell back in 2018 when I got traded, but I do want them to know that it's like family. Not just the people in the clubhouse, managers, general managers, and everybody in the stadium. There are so many people throughout the years that we have become close with. It's some of the best fans in baseball. It really is a special place to play." Brian Dozier on current Twins: "I've watched them from afar. It is tremendous for me just to sit there and watch them and see what they've become. Polanco. Max. Rosario, Sano... It is a joy for me to see for me. They'll continue to get better which is scary. I still talk to a lot of them. It really is a joy for me to sit back and watch them."
  6. On Thursday morning, former Twins infielder Brian Dozier announced his retirement from baseball. Dozier spent the first seven of his nine MLB seasons with the Twins and was a great representative of the organization on and off the field. "I'm done. I'm hanging 'em up." That's what Brian Dozier told media members on Thursday morning. In addition, his former Twins managers Ron Gardenhire and Paul Molitor, as well as former GM Terry Ryan were on the call. Eduardo Escobar called in briefly from Arizona, on the practice field. Josh Willingham called in as well. It wasn't easy, but Dozier said that he did talk to a lot of players this offseason who have retired and that decision. "Tough decision. Many prayers went into this, especially after last season. I kind of made up my mind a couple of months ago." He had opportunities to play after the Mets released him last year, but he noted: "I told my wife, 'This COVID thing is the worst thing that ever happened to us because I got to be home and wake my daughter up every single morning. I love doing this. There is nothing in baseball that has given me this happiness and joy.'" He talked to some teams this past offseason, but he decided that he was ready to be done playing. "My wife? She wanted me to play until I was 50!" he joked. ---------------------------------------------- Brian Dozier joined the Twins organization in June of 2009 after the Twins drafted him as a 'senior sign' out of Southern Mississippi in the draft. He was coming off an injury and after five GCL games moved up to Elizabethton. In 2010, he split the season between Beloit and Ft. Myers, but 2011 was his breakout year as a prospect. He began the season with 49 games in Ft. Myers before jumping to New Britain for the final 78 games. Combined, he hit .320/.399/.491 (.890) with 33 doubles, 12 triples and nine home runs. He also stole 24 bases. The Twins, and Twins Daily, named him the Twins minor league hitter/player of the year. He debuted with the Twins in May of 2012, just a week before his 25th birthday. He played in 84 game and hit .234 (.603) with 11 doubles and six homers. However, he was sent down and did not receive a September call up. Dozier looks back at it now and says, "I thought I would, but it was the best thing that happened to me because it made me work even harder." That offseason, he worked a lot with Paul Molitor on moving to second base. He also gives a lol of credit to Tom Brunansky for working with him offensively. He was the Twins starting second baseman on Opening Day 2013 and remained in that role until he was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline in 2018. In between, he become one of the more prolific power hitters in Twins history. He hit 18 home runs in 2013, a record for Twins second baseman at the time. He then broke that record with 23 homers in 2014 in 2015. He made the All Star team that season. In 2016, he became just the fourth second baseman to hit 40 homers. He hit 42 total home runs that season. In 2017, he came back with 34 homers. In addition, he won a Gold Glove Award. Since the Twins traded him, he has had his struggles. He hit just .182 in 47 games for the 2018 Dodgers, but he provided nine doubles and five home runs. He played in the World Series. In 2019, he hit .238 with 20 doubles and 20 homers for the Nationals team that went on the win the World Series. And he danced... and sang... usually shirtless. He played in seven games for the Mets in 2020. In seven seasons with the Twins, Dozier played in 955 games. He hit .248/.325/.447 (.772) with 202 doubles, 167 home runs, 593 runs scored and 491 RBI. He had four straight 20 double, 20 homer seasons. But Dozier was fantastic on and off the field. From the Twins press release< "Dozier’s hustle on the field was matched by an electric personality off it that inspired camaraderie across the organization and the sport. Among other honors, he was the recipient of the 2013 Mike Augustin “Media Good Guy” Award by the Twin Cities Chapter of the BBWAA, the Twins’ 2014 Heart and Hustle Award by the MLB Players Alumni Association, the 2015 Carl R. Pohlad Award for Twins Outstanding Community Service and the 2016-17 Bob Allison Award for Twins leadership." On Thursday, he is retiring. The 33-year-old lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with his wife and two young kids. His daughter Reese is two years old, and his son Rip was born in mid-December. He will keep busy. He plans to travel a lot and visit friends from the organizations he's played in. He said he's had a real estate companies for years. He also has an investment company. He golfs and hopes to play in several tournaments. "I play the piano every day, but other than that, no music for me. One of the biggest things that I look forward to is hunting more. Not necessarily hunting. I loved planting food plots in the summertime when I was in high school, and I haven't been able to do that. I'm looking forward to that. I'm heading to my hunting camp in a couple of weeks to plant some corn. I'm looking forward to that. Haven't been able to do that in about 15 years. A lot of hunting. A lot of golf. But most than that, being a full-time dad." Comments from the press conference: Eduardo Escobar: "I want to say Congrats, man. Thank you so much. You're the best. I love you. You know how much I respect you. You taught me to play this game the right way, and that's why I'm still playing today. You are the best. God bless you and your family!" Ron Gardenhire: "I got to watch you first-hand in that dugout, watch you grow up and break into the big leagues. Handled everything so easily. One of the nicest people I've ever been around in my life.... Of course, after I left he started hitting bombs into the seats. He waited..." Paul Molitor: "I remember a trip out there in Double-A, and the week I watched your team, you were the best player on the field no matter who else was playing. You did it all. You made teammates better. You carried yourself tremendously well for where you were at in your career." Molitor: "I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to manage you." Molitor: "In addition to your performance, how you took care of your teammates, and made everybody better. You were never selfish. You understood the humility that it takes to be successful." Terry Ryan: "I followed you from Elizabethton to Beloit to Ft. Myers and you didn't hit a home run. So I'm thinking, well, we've got a shortstop here that has no power, and he's not really a burner, and all of a sudden you're hitting second base and hitting 42 home runs. Brian, I couldn't be more proud of the things you've accomplished and provided to the Twins organization. You went on the win a World Series. You had an outstanding career, and you were a great person involved in the Twins organization, and I was just happy to be a small part of it." Brian Dozier: "The people that I played for, they demanded you play the game the right way. I'm telling you, I've gotten to see other places throughout my career, but it was a blessing playing for Minnesota who takes it above and beyond, and it starts with Terry Ryan. You carry yourself the right way not only on the field but off it. It wasn't something they just suggested. It was demanded." Brian Dozier: "It sucks to say, but I kind of fell out of love with playing the game, but I always loved baseball." Brian Dozier: "Right now, I might possibly pursue managing in the big leagues the next couple of years. I've learned a lot from all the managers I played for, and my wife and I have talked about it. The playing side I kind of fell out of love with, but I fell in love with possibly pursuing [managing]." Brian Dozier to Twins Fans: "I tell people all the time, and my wife and I talk about it all the time, that (Minnesota) is my second home. It always will be. I said a farewell back in 2018 when I got traded, but I do want them to know that it's like family. Not just the people in the clubhouse, managers, general managers, and everybody in the stadium. There are so many people throughout the years that we have become close with. It's some of the best fans in baseball. It really is a special place to play." Brian Dozier on current Twins: "I've watched them from afar. It is tremendous for me just to sit there and watch them and see what they've become. Polanco. Max. Rosario, Sano... It is a joy for me to see for me. They'll continue to get better which is scary. I still talk to a lot of them. It really is a joy for me to sit back and watch them." View full article
  7. Flags fly forever or so the saying goes. During the 2010 season, the Twins had a roster that seemed built for October success. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were in the middle of a powerful line-up that helped to open Target Field with a bang. One of the team’s biggest weaknesses was the bullpen and this meant Terry Ryan went shopping at the deadline to look for a “proven closer.” Minnesota’s bullpen wasn’t completely inept during the season’s first half as players like Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Jose Mijares fit into their designated roles. Jon Rauch was given the opportunity to be the team’s primary closer. Prior to the trade deadline, Rauch posted a 3.05 ERA as opponents hit .283/.321/.395 against him in 37 games. He was doing the job, but more bullpen depth seemed like it would bolster the team for the stretch run. Matt Capps served as Pittsburgh’s closer for parts of three seasons before being non-tendered and eventually signing with the Washington Nationals. During the first half of 2010, he’d make his first All-Star team as he had a 2.74 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP in 46 innings. His ERA was strong, but he gave up a lot of contact and didn’t strike out many batters (under 7.0 K/9 for his career) which can be cause for concern from a reliever. From the Twins perspective, they were acquiring a reliever with control over the next season and a half and their competitive window seemed to be open. He was worth 0.9 WAR during his Twins tenure, but it was more about what the Twins gave up acquiring that slight bullpen boost. To make matters worse, Minnesota doubled down on Capps and signed him to an extension. When that contract ended, he wouldn’t pitch in the big leagues again. Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa were the two players sent to Washington for the rights to Capps. Ramos was a consensus top-65 prospect in all of baseball entering the 2010 season. Before being traded, he also had an impressive big-league debut as he collected seven hits in his first two games. That being said, Minnesota had just signed Joe Mauer to the richest contract in team history and it seemed like he was going to be behind the plate for the foreseeable future. This might have made Ramos more expendable to the team. During his Washington tenure, Ramos turned into a solid piece of their big-league roster. He’d finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .267/.334/.445 with 38 extra-base hits in 113 games. His final season in Washington was his best as he posted an .850 OPS with 22 home runs and 25 doubles on the way to winning the Silver Slugger award and being selected to his first All-Star Game. In total, he produced 10.5 WAR in his seven seasons of team control that the Twins let go for under 100 innings of Capps. It’s clear why Washington wanted to make this trade as Ramos became their primary catcher for most of a decade. For the Twins, Mauer was still the team’s primary catcher for the next three seasons before being forced to move to first base. Even considering this, it doesn’t seem like the Twins were able to maximize the value of one of baseball’s top catching prospects. Capps was very good in 2010 and there’s no question that he helped the Twins solidify their bullpen. There was no way the team knew what would happen in the playoffs. Minnesota is often criticized for not going for it and hanging on to their prospects when they have a chance to make a deeper playoff run. This was a time when the front office decided to go against this traditional mantra and the results speak for themselves. What are your thoughts after looking back at this trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Tom Brunansky — Johan Santana MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Augie Ojeda grew up in southern California where he learned to love the game of baseball. “I was a big Dodgers fan. I was diehard!” He continued, “Fernando Mania in 1981! All the excitement and the hype that he brought to the Dodgers.” But because he was small, he didn’t have scouts looking at him in high school. He went to Cypress College, a two-year program with a strong baseball tradition. That’s where he started to get noticed as a ballplayer. “You still haven’t developed into that prototypical 6-2 baseball player, especially back in those days. Scouts were big on height and numbers and the 40-yard dash. I started realizing I had a chance in junior college. I grew a little bit, got stronger, and played really well against better competition.” He still wasn’t a big guy, but he was attracting the attention of some of the top baseball schools in the country. Because of scholarship limitations, many of the prominent southern California baseball schools didn’t really recruit him. But he was hearing from all over the country. His five school trips were to Arizona State, Oklahoma, Miami, Tennessee and Texas Tech. Each school gave him a 100% scholarship offer. “My decision was kind of easy. It was basically my pick, and I chose Tennessee. They had a good team the prior season and went to the College World Series, and most of the guys were coming back. It was between Tennessee and Miami, and Miami at the time had Alex Cora at shortstop.” He chose Tennessee where he continued to find great success. In 1996, Ojeda was the 13th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles. He didn’t sign right away, but there was a good reason for that. He was heading to the Olympics. He joined some great college players, including former Twins Jacque Jones, Matthew LeCroy and Chad Allen on the 1996 USA Olympic team. The team won the bronze medal in those Atlanta Olympics. “It was a blessing. It was awesome. It kind of snuck out of nowhere. I didn’t really see that coming.” Ojeda added, “Any kid wants to represent the flag. It’s an honor, and a fun experience that words cannot describe. It was a blessing playing with all these first rounders. I was just happy to be a part of it, and anytime you get a chance to represent your country is an honor.” Following the Olympics, Ojeda went back to school for a semester before signing with the Orioles. Things moved pretty quickly in 1997. It started with an invite to big league camp. “Getting ground balls next to Cal Ripken… that was pretty cool.” Because of an injury to another shortstop, Ojeda began his pro career in Double-A. He played in three levels that season, even getting some time at Triple-A Rochester, a place he would return years later. He was traded to the Cubs before the 2000 season. “I was kind of heart broken because I was the type of kid who followed baseball in the ‘80s and guys stayed with one team forever. Rivalries, and you don’t like the Giants because you’re a Dodgers fan, and you see the same faces for seven, eight years. I was bummed. I was crushed. I thought I was going to be an Oriole forever.” “It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.” That June, he made his big league debut with the Cubs. He spent parts of the next four seasons as a utility infielder for the Cubs. He became a fan favorite because of his size and work ethic, but also because he played really strong defense all around the infield. “The Cubs fans are really supportive, and they do their homework on the minor league guys. And they didn’t know much about me, but they saw my size and thought I was a long shot to make it. I hit a double in my first game and I got a standing ovation, and they started calling my name.” What an experience. However, following the 2003 season, the Cubs placed him on waivers and the Twins claimed him. Minnesota Twins “I got a call from Terry Ryan that they were picking me up. I didn’t know much about the Twins. But from playing in the same league in Double-A, I realized they were strict on their development. Every single guy played together for years, and they had to produce. It wasn’t like any other organization where if you do well or you do bad you skip or you stay back. You had to earn your stripes. And they were stacked. They did a really good job with their scouting and player development.” He returned to Rochester to start the 2004 season. In early August, he was called up to the Twins. He spent August in a utility role, but by September, he was playing nearly every day… and putting up numbers. “The coaches did a good job of working extra with the guys. So every day at home, it was extra batting practice. Every day, extra batting practice. And I took advantage of that. I never had that in my career. The coaches would throw a half hour of extra batting practice, and I was a switch-hitter so I got a lot of reps. They were a young team. They emphasized big time extra work and working hard, and I think that helped me the most. In 30 games for the Twins in 2004, Ojeda hit .339/.429/.458 (.886) with a double and two home runs. “That was the best month I had in my entire life.” He continued, “I played all of September, and that was in a pennant race. We won the Central that year. Gardenhire sat (Luis) Rivas. He was struggling. I came into a game in Anaheim, and I went 2-for-4 in late August. Then after that I played almost every day. Playing every day is a little easier. You know your rhythm. You know your timing.” For whatever reason, Ojeda spent all of 2005 in Rochester with the Red Wings. “To this day, I never knew what happened. What did I do to them? I helped them. I was part of the big push in a pennant race. Then I never got called up. I never knew what was going on.” “The coaches really worked hard. Really worked hard. They were different though. It was a different organization. I was kind of shocked the way the way they handled things. Gardenhire, I don’t know if he got it from Tom Kelly, but they were really big on picking their own apples.They didn’t get bad apples. And when they got good apples, they wanted to control them, which was different. The guys were young so they didn’t say much, but it opened my eyes.” After that season, he became a free agent. He re-signed with the Cubs but spent all of 2006 in Triple-A. In 2007, the Diamondbacks gave him a chance. It was a chance for him to play at home in Arizona where he had bought a house during his time in the Cubs organization. He fully took advantage once he was called up. He spent the second half of 2007 with the Diamondbacks. He played over 100 games in both 2008 and 2009 and another 59 in 2010. “Bob Melvin. I give him all the credit. He believed in me. Kind of similar to the Twins. Orlando Hudson got hurt my first year in ‘07, and that summer I hit .340 in September playing every day. We made the playoffs. I stuck around and got rewarded. I made the team the next year. I did well in ‘08 again. I spent four years there, and that’s the best little run in my career, and I had the best time of my life, thanks to the Diamondbacks and Bob Melvin.” Since retiring, Ojeda has had offers and options for coaching in pro baseball, but he is happy living in Arizona, and helping his wife take care of their three kids. He’s got two daughters, an eight year old and a five year old. They are both in swimming and gymnastics. The couple have a two-year-old son as well. “With my three kids being so young, I don’t have time, and I don’t want to leave them. I’d rather stay home and raise them and see them develop. Playing all these years, you see teammates interact with their parents or their kids and there really isn’t a relationship. I told myself that’s not the life I want to live when I have kids. You’re basically gone for six, seven months out of the year. You’re not going to see them. You’re not going to bond. You’re not going to have a relationship. It’s definitely not worth it.” He’s also proud of what he was able to accomplish on the baseball field despite the odds being against him. He was “too small”. He had the “utility player” label. And yet, he had a nine-year, major-league career. “I never thought I would have the resume that I have. Never in a million years did I think I’d be a big leaguer. Never in a thousand years did I think I’d play in the Olympics. Went to a big-time college on a full scholarship. Being in high school and 5-4, 130 pounds. No scouts. No connections, and three years later I was in the Olympics, getting drafted and then minor league ball. My goal was to be a big leaguer. I didn’t know if I would make it. I knew what scouts wanted, and I knew that’s not what I had. But I had the heart and determination. I worked hard, and that’s what got me over the hump. I look back in awe, to be honest. I’m ecstatic and blessed.” He adds, “To all the kids who don’t have the size, keep working. Outwork them. There’s no talent for outworking people. There’s no talent for grinding and putting in the work.” While Augie Ojeda doesn’t tweet much, but you can follow him at @augieojeda.
  9. Looking for a good story on perseverance and believing in oneself? There have been many in baseball’s history. Former Twins infielder Augie Ojeda was told that he wasn’t big enough, wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t a lot of things that baseball people look for in prospects. Instead, he worked and played really hard. He persevered and ultimately put together a career that should be looked back upon and inspire other ballplayers who are told they can’t do something. Did you remember that Ojeda spent a couple of months in a Twins uniform?Augie Ojeda grew up in southern California where he learned to love the game of baseball. “I was a big Dodgers fan. I was diehard!” He continued, “Fernando Mania in 1981! All the excitement and the hype that he brought to the Dodgers.” But because he was small, he didn’t have scouts looking at him in high school. He went to Cypress College, a two-year program with a strong baseball tradition. That’s where he started to get noticed as a ballplayer. “You still haven’t developed into that prototypical 6-2 baseball player, especially back in those days. Scouts were big on height and numbers and the 40-yard dash. I started realizing I had a chance in junior college. I grew a little bit, got stronger, and played really well against better competition.” He still wasn’t a big guy, but he was attracting the attention of some of the top baseball schools in the country. Because of scholarship limitations, many of the prominent southern California baseball schools didn’t really recruit him. But he was hearing from all over the country. His five school trips were to Arizona State, Oklahoma, Miami, Tennessee and Texas Tech. Each school gave him a 100% scholarship offer. “My decision was kind of easy. It was basically my pick, and I chose Tennessee. They had a good team the prior season and went to the College World Series, and most of the guys were coming back. It was between Tennessee and Miami, and Miami at the time had Alex Cora at shortstop.” He chose Tennessee where he continued to find great success. In 1996, Ojeda was the 13th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles. He didn’t sign right away, but there was a good reason for that. He was heading to the Olympics. He joined some great college players, including former Twins Jacque Jones, Matthew LeCroy and Chad Allen on the 1996 USA Olympic team. The team won the bronze medal in those Atlanta Olympics. “It was a blessing. It was awesome. It kind of snuck out of nowhere. I didn’t really see that coming.” Ojeda added, “Any kid wants to represent the flag. It’s an honor, and a fun experience that words cannot describe. It was a blessing playing with all these first rounders. I was just happy to be a part of it, and anytime you get a chance to represent your country is an honor.” Following the Olympics, Ojeda went back to school for a semester before signing with the Orioles. Things moved pretty quickly in 1997. It started with an invite to big league camp. “Getting ground balls next to Cal Ripken… that was pretty cool.” Because of an injury to another shortstop, Ojeda began his pro career in Double-A. He played in three levels that season, even getting some time at Triple-A Rochester, a place he would return years later. He was traded to the Cubs before the 2000 season. “I was kind of heart broken because I was the type of kid who followed baseball in the ‘80s and guys stayed with one team forever. Rivalries, and you don’t like the Giants because you’re a Dodgers fan, and you see the same faces for seven, eight years. I was bummed. I was crushed. I thought I was going to be an Oriole forever.” “It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.” That June, he made his big league debut with the Cubs. He spent parts of the next four seasons as a utility infielder for the Cubs. He became a fan favorite because of his size and work ethic, but also because he played really strong defense all around the infield. “The Cubs fans are really supportive, and they do their homework on the minor league guys. And they didn’t know much about me, but they saw my size and thought I was a long shot to make it. I hit a double in my first game and I got a standing ovation, and they started calling my name.” What an experience. However, following the 2003 season, the Cubs placed him on waivers and the Twins claimed him. Minnesota Twins “I got a call from Terry Ryan that they were picking me up. I didn’t know much about the Twins. But from playing in the same league in Double-A, I realized they were strict on their development. Every single guy played together for years, and they had to produce. It wasn’t like any other organization where if you do well or you do bad you skip or you stay back. You had to earn your stripes. And they were stacked. They did a really good job with their scouting and player development.” He returned to Rochester to start the 2004 season. In early August, he was called up to the Twins. He spent August in a utility role, but by September, he was playing nearly every day… and putting up numbers. “The coaches did a good job of working extra with the guys. So every day at home, it was extra batting practice. Every day, extra batting practice. And I took advantage of that. I never had that in my career. The coaches would throw a half hour of extra batting practice, and I was a switch-hitter so I got a lot of reps. They were a young team. They emphasized big time extra work and working hard, and I think that helped me the most. In 30 games for the Twins in 2004, Ojeda hit .339/.429/.458 (.886) with a double and two home runs. “That was the best month I had in my entire life.” He continued, “I played all of September, and that was in a pennant race. We won the Central that year. Gardenhire sat (Luis) Rivas. He was struggling. I came into a game in Anaheim, and I went 2-for-4 in late August. Then after that I played almost every day. Playing every day is a little easier. You know your rhythm. You know your timing.” For whatever reason, Ojeda spent all of 2005 in Rochester with the Red Wings. “To this day, I never knew what happened. What did I do to them? I helped them. I was part of the big push in a pennant race. Then I never got called up. I never knew what was going on.” “The coaches really worked hard. Really worked hard. They were different though. It was a different organization. I was kind of shocked the way the way they handled things. Gardenhire, I don’t know if he got it from Tom Kelly, but they were really big on picking their own apples.They didn’t get bad apples. And when they got good apples, they wanted to control them, which was different. The guys were young so they didn’t say much, but it opened my eyes.” After that season, he became a free agent. He re-signed with the Cubs but spent all of 2006 in Triple-A. In 2007, the Diamondbacks gave him a chance. It was a chance for him to play at home in Arizona where he had bought a house during his time in the Cubs organization. He fully took advantage once he was called up. He spent the second half of 2007 with the Diamondbacks. He played over 100 games in both 2008 and 2009 and another 59 in 2010. “Bob Melvin. I give him all the credit. He believed in me. Kind of similar to the Twins. Orlando Hudson got hurt my first year in ‘07, and that summer I hit .340 in September playing every day. We made the playoffs. I stuck around and got rewarded. I made the team the next year. I did well in ‘08 again. I spent four years there, and that’s the best little run in my career, and I had the best time of my life, thanks to the Diamondbacks and Bob Melvin.” Since retiring, Ojeda has had offers and options for coaching in pro baseball, but he is happy living in Arizona, and helping his wife take care of their three kids. He’s got two daughters, an eight year old and a five year old. They are both in swimming and gymnastics. The couple have a two-year-old son as well. “With my three kids being so young, I don’t have time, and I don’t want to leave them. I’d rather stay home and raise them and see them develop. Playing all these years, you see teammates interact with their parents or their kids and there really isn’t a relationship. I told myself that’s not the life I want to live when I have kids. You’re basically gone for six, seven months out of the year. You’re not going to see them. You’re not going to bond. You’re not going to have a relationship. It’s definitely not worth it.” He’s also proud of what he was able to accomplish on the baseball field despite the odds being against him. He was “too small”. He had the “utility player” label. And yet, he had a nine-year, major-league career. “I never thought I would have the resume that I have. Never in a million years did I think I’d be a big leaguer. Never in a thousand years did I think I’d play in the Olympics. Went to a big-time college on a full scholarship. Being in high school and 5-4, 130 pounds. No scouts. No connections, and three years later I was in the Olympics, getting drafted and then minor league ball. My goal was to be a big leaguer. I didn’t know if I would make it. I knew what scouts wanted, and I knew that’s not what I had. But I had the heart and determination. I worked hard, and that’s what got me over the hump. I look back in awe, to be honest. I’m ecstatic and blessed.” He adds, “To all the kids who don’t have the size, keep working. Outwork them. There’s no talent for outworking people. There’s no talent for grinding and putting in the work.” While Augie Ojeda doesn’t tweet much, but you can follow him at @augieojeda. Click here to view the article
  10. Terry Ryan decided that a 26-year-old David Ortiz, and his career .809 OPS with 58 homers, was worthy of release prior to the 2003 season. Jose Morban was the man worthy of a roster spot, and the 23-year-old never wound up playing for the Twins before returning to Baltimore and generating just a .412 OPS in 61 games. Fast forward to 2020 and we’re looking at the question of regression regarding Nelson Cruz, but able to do it through the lens of Red Sox legend, Mr. Ortiz. “Big Papi,” as he’s affectionately known, went on to play 14 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t retire until he was 40 years old, and he swatted 541 career home runs. Unlike many players that are simply lapped by the game in their later years, Ortiz went out on top. In 2016 he played 151 games while posting a ridiculous .315/.401/.620 slash line. He blasted a league-leading 48 dingers and paced the crowd with 127 RBIs. Despite a 6th place MVP finish and clearly being capable of big-league production, he stepped away. Last season Cruz entered his maiden voyage in Twins Territory. The late-blooming slugger joined his fifth organization and posted a career best 1.031 OPS. At 38-years-old he hit 41 longballs and owned a career best .392 OBP. He played in just 120 games dealing with intermittent wrist injuries, but ultimately showed there were no signs of slowing down. The hope would be that 2020 represents more of the same, and Ortiz provides the example that age may simply be just a number. On pace for a 5.8 fWAR over the course of a full season, Cruz was more productive on a per-game basis than he’s ever been. Steamer projects a step up in games played at 147 in 2020, but the 2.9 fWAR is quite a bit of regression. The OPS sags to .909 with the home run total ending at 40. It’s a very solid output, but with the additional games adding to the body of work, leaves plenty of production on the table. Although projection systems are mathematically sound, there’s analytical substance to the idea that Cruz may not be ready to give in yet. Say what you want about the baseball itself from a season ago, but the controlled outputs were plenty impressive on their own. A 52.5% hard hit rate was a career best and paced the sport (among hitters with 450 ABs). While he was walloping the baseball, a 31.3% rate of fly balls leaving the yard was only topped by Brewers MVP candidate Christian Yelich. Nelson didn’t chase more, or swing through more pitches, and he actually took a slight dip in contact. What that formula suggests is quality of contact being through the roof. Branching out from Fangraphs, Baseball Savant agrees with the data as well. A 12.5% barrels/plate appearance tally put him in first place by nearly a full percentage point. His average exit velocity was trumped by only Aaron Judge and teammate Miguel Sano, and his xwOBA of .418 ranked 5th highest in the game. In short, Nelson Cruz is doing all the right things that would make his production regression projection go poof. Now, as bodies age, a dip could be seen unexpectedly. Time is undefeated, and at some point, will get its due. To suggest that it’s coming simply because he’s a year older and approaching 40 however, does not seem like the greatest bet. David Ortiz is the latest example to prove competence in his twilight, and as much fun as slugging sendoffs are (looking at you Jim Thome), Cruz appears to be more contributing than cooling in the year ahead. Toting only a bat to the ballpark on a regular basis isn’t a bad gig for an aging star and having a few less big-league miles on a late bloomer can’t hurt either. Nelson Cruz had his nap room installed in the bowels of Target Field, and allowing him the opportunity to continue to wake and rake is something his employer should bask in. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. It was the final day of the 2003 All-Star break. The defending American League Central champion Twins had limped out to a 44-49 record and were 7.5 games back in the division, sitting in third place. The front office/ownership hadn’t made any big moves the previous two seasons despite the team being competitive, so there seemed to be little reason to expect any motivation to build up the roster. There was still just as much discussion about the potential for contraction as there was contention during this time. But prior to the start of the second half, Terry Ryan struck a deal. The Twins acquired Shannon Stewart from the Toronto Blue Jays to serve as the team’s leadoff hitter. July 16, 2003 ended up being a momentous turning point for not only that season, but in some ways you could argue for the entire organization/future of the Twins. Stewart hit .322/.384/470 (.854 OPS) for the Twins as the team went 46-23 in the second half. That season-ending surge also saw the team post an insane 24-9 record over its final 33 games. There was an 11-game winning streak included in that stretch. The Twins ended up charging back to win the division by four games. For his efforts, Stewart finished fourth in AL MVP voting. Things turned out about as good as could have been imagined, but that was actually somewhat of a controversial trade at the time that it happened. The player Ryan sent to Toronto had actually been performing basically as well as Stewart, was younger and had many more years of team control. At the time of the move, Bobby Kielty was hitting .252/.370/.420 (.790 OPS) for the Twins while Stewart was posting a .294/.347/.449 (.796 OPS) batting line for the Blue Jays. It was essentially a challenge trade, a very gutsy move. After accounting for a 125 wRC+ over his time with the Twins, Kielty never came even close to that production elsewhere. He posted a 92 wRC+ over 367 career games from that moment forward. Stewart ended up signing a three-year deal to remain with the Twins the following offseason. Stewart was excellent when healthy once again in 2004, helping the Twins to yet another AL Central crown. His first Opening Day in Minnesota was a memorable one, as he delivered a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Metrodome into a frenzy. Stewart’s my personal all-time favorite among Twins midseason additions. I’d love to hear your memories from that time, but I’m also interested in your own personal favorites from over the years. A certain hitter on one of the World Series champion teams certainly sticks out, if anyone else cares to share some memories from 1987. If you haven’t signed up for an account at the site yet, click here to get registered and join in on the conversation.
  12. The Kansas City Royals are on the field. They already took a round of infield, and now I am watching Alex Gordon launch baseballs into the bleachers. Over the speakers, Prince songs are blaring. Moments ago, Adalberto Mondesi was taking his hacks while "...You sexy m()%#*@($#%" played. It's Prince Night tonight at Target Field. The Twins took batting practice earlier sporting t-shirts with the Prince symbol on the front and their name and number on the back. But in the end, this weekend is a celebration of the career of all-time Twins great Joe Mauer. On Saturday the Twins will officially retire Joe Mauer's uniform number 7 in a pregame celebration. The ceremony will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday so be sure you don't miss that whether you are at the stadium or watching on TV. Recently, the Twins sent a list of about 40 former players, coaches, Twins Hall of Famers and more who will be in attendance. The list is really impressive and speaks to not only the Hall of Fame-worthy, 15-season career of Mauer, but to the impression that he made on his teammates. I had the chance to catch up with former Twins GM Terry Ryan for about 10 minutes before the game. He will be here, as will Bill Smith, 15 members of the Twins Hall of Fame (including 5 National Hall of Fame players), and many former teammates including Trevor Plouffe, Nick Punto, Denard Span and Matt Belisle, and a lot more. All seven previously retired numbers will be in attendance or represented (Kirby Puckett's daughter will be here). I wonder what is behind the covered up circle? As we know, Mauer also did a ton in the community, and Joe Mauer weekend began with a great event on Friday morning at Target Field. Mauer and a bunch of his friends welcomed kids from the Gillette Children's Hospital to play ball on the field. https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1139565094369660928 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1139574010369519616 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1139567873842667523 There will be opportunities to get photos and autographs with some of the former players throughout the weekend. And, what is really exciting is going to Target Field and seeing crowds. I know that can be tough in some ways, but people really care about this team. The passion for Twins baseball is back. Of course, there is also baseball to be played. Tonight Kyle Gibson will be on the mound, taking on Brad Keller. With a huge, sold out crowd, it would sure be fun to see a lot of Twins Bombas! Keller is making his 15th start of the year for the Royals. The 23-year-old was a Rule 5 draft pick of the Royals from the Reds in 2017. He is 3-8 with a 4.29 ERA. In his most recent start (last Saturday), he went eight innings against the White Sox. He gave up just two runs on five hits, though the big hit was a two-run Eloy Jimenez homer. No Twins hitter has more than six at-bats against Keller. Kyle Gibson is 6-3 with a 4.14 ERA. The 31-year-old has 71 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings. If Gibson records the second out of the top of the sixth inning tonight, he will reach 1000 career innings pitched. He comes into the game with 994 1/3 innings. He will become the 11th Twins pitcher to reach that milestone number. It sure is great to see these big crowds to see the Twins and sell outs throughout the weekend. .
  13. The Twins are about an hour away from starting a three-game intradivision series with the Kansas City Royals. However, thanks to a huge lead in the division, let's be honest, this weekend is about Joe Mauer. And a bit about Prince.The Kansas City Royals are on the field. They already took a round of infield, and now I am watching Alex Gordon launch baseballs into the bleachers. Over the speakers, Prince songs are blaring. Moments ago, Adalberto Mondesi was taking his hacks while "...You sexy m()%#*@($#%" played. It's Prince Night tonight at Target Field. The Twins took batting practice earlier sporting t-shirts with the Prince symbol on the front and their name and number on the back. But in the end, this weekend is a celebration of the career of all-time Twins great Joe Mauer. On Saturday the Twins will officially retire Joe Mauer's uniform number 7 in a pregame celebration. The ceremony will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday so be sure you don't miss that whether you are at the stadium or watching on TV. Recently, the Twins sent a list of about 40 former players, coaches, Twins Hall of Famers and more who will be in attendance. The list is really impressive and speaks to not only the Hall of Fame-worthy, 15-season career of Mauer, but to the impression that he made on his teammates. I had the chance to catch up with former Twins GM Terry Ryan for about 10 minutes before the game. He will be here, as will Bill Smith, 15 members of the Twins Hall of Fame (including 5 National Hall of Fame players), and many former teammates including Trevor Plouffe, Nick Punto, Denard Span and Matt Belisle, and a lot more. All seven previously retired numbers will be in attendance or represented (Kirby Puckett's daughter will be here). I wonder what is behind the covered up circle? As we know, Mauer also did a ton in the community, and Joe Mauer weekend began with a great event on Friday morning at Target Field. Mauer and a bunch of his friends welcomed kids from the Gillette Children's Hospital to play ball on the field. Click here to view the article
  14. The Best Twins General Manager and owner - really a difficult task - the manager, the owner, the GM, the players - who do you blame? • Calvin Griffith. (1961 – 1984) It is not a long list since Calvin served as both owner and general manager. We won a World Series under Calvin, he moved the team to Minnesota, he insulted and lost Rod Carew. • Howard Fox. (1985 – 1986) He was a member of the Twins organization for sixty years. When he was traveling secretary, he had a fight with Billy Martin on the team plane. After Calvin sold the team he stayed on as team president for two years under Pohlad. • Andy MacPhail (Won WS twice in 1987 and 1991) Andy was the boy wonder. He was hired as VP for player development in 1984 and GM in 1985. He hired Tom Kelly, and traded for Jeff Reardon to close out games and pitchers Joe Niekro and Dan Schatzeder as well as outfielder Dan Gladden. Then after a last place finish in signed Jack Morris and we went on to another pennant while McPhail became Sporting News Executive of the Year. He then left for Chicago Cubs, which did not work out as well. Now he is president of the free spending Phillies. • Terry Ryan (1995-2007, again from 2012 - 2016) From Janesville, WI, Ryan had an unsuccessful career as a pitcher, but became a prolific scout for the Mets where he developed his reputation for player evaluation. He was smart enough to trade Dave Hollins to Seattle for David Ortiz, but did not keep him long enough to see his true development. Stuck with tight budgets he often dumped vets, but was savvy enough to trade for Shannon Stewart when the team needed him. In 2002 the Twins were the victors over Oakland in the playoffs, and he was named executive of the year while the team was the Organization of the year. He left with a good reputation, but returned in 2012 and lost some of his luster as the changing times caught up with him. • Bill Smith (2008-2011) was Ryan’s replacement. He was a loyal member of the front office and assistant to Ryan. However his star never rose and names like Matt Capps will forever stain his reputation. He was fired, the first GM to be fired by the team and Ryan came back. • Terry Ryan became the second GM fired by the Twins, but then there are not very many and perhaps the first one would have been fired had he not owned the team. • Rob Antony (interim 2016) A filler, not much to say. • Thad Levine (2016-present) Too early to tell. So how do I judge the best. We won world series under Griffith and MacPhail. Ryan and MacPhail both won Executive of the year. Average wins per season under GM Griffith 80 wins Fox 79 MacPhail 71 Ryan – first round 85 Bill Smith 83 Terry Ryan – second round 71 At the end of this look and after reading a lot of material I conclude that I cannot really judge. MacPhail looked like the Wonderman, but his teams could not sustain. Was he the best? He could not do it with the Cubs and he went higher in the front office with the Phillies who have not done well, but have now tried to buy the championship. Ryan has the best average wins under his first stint. Of course, this also reflects on the manager – these are the men who sign the players. They determine what the manager has to work with. It is really hard to figure out a really good metric for them. Was Calvin better than MacPhail – he has more wins per season – but long time Twins fans would faint at that decision. I am not going to do a best owner – Calvin is here and was the owner until Carl Pohlad bought the team and then son Jim took over. Not a lot to look at and not a lot of difference. One WS under Calvin, 2 under the Pohlads. One contraction threat under the Pohlads, lots of racist statements from Calvin. The average wins per season does not vary much between the two families. So I have no choice in this and only hope the next one is the best.
  15. Vargas was designated for assignment by Cincinnati and Minnesota claimed him back. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/977603010418348032 The Reds seemed like a tough spot for Vargas to fit, with Joey Votto occupying first base and no designated hitter in the National League. Because of his switch-hitting ability, there was some thought that he could serve as a bench bat or the club could try to sneak him through waivers to the minors. That plan didn’t work as he is back in Minnesota. Some Twins fans were a little paranoid about losing Vargas. It’s hard to blame fans for remembering when the club made one of the biggest judgment gaffes in baseball history. Letting David Ortiz go was a mistake. Even former General Manager Terry Ryan has admitted as much. But let’s make one thing clear… Kennys Vargas isn’t David Ortiz. It’s easy to see why fans can see similarities between the two players. Both players fit a similar profile as large men who have little to no defensive value. Even more eerie might be the fact that the Twins let both players go entering their age-27 season. Beyond those surface level similarities, there are some stark differences between these two players. Ortiz broke into the majors as a 21-year old in 1997. He played a little over 100 games through his first three seasons before becoming a regular player in 2000. From 1997-2002, he hit 266/.348/.461 (.809) while averaging 10 home runs and 18 doubles per season. He also had 339 strikeouts compared to 186 walks in 455 games. His best season in Minnesota was his last as he hit .272/.339/.500 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs in 125 games. He battled injuries throughout his time in a Twins uniform. During the 2002-2003 off-season, Ortiz was due to make roughly $2 million through the arbitration process. Matt LeCroy would take over the designated hitter role with Doug Mientkiewicz penciled in at first base. Justin Morneau was closing in on the big leagues as well. “There wasn’t any one thing,” Terry Ryan told MLB.com. “If you look at his numbers across the board, they were very respectable. And not that it was totally about money, but we were a little bit strapped. That would be a good excuse, but it wasn’t that entirely. It was just a bad error in judgment of a guy’s talent.” Ortiz would sign with the Red Sox for $1.25 million and the rest is history. Vargas is a much different story. He made his debut as a 23-year old in 2014. During his four seasons in Minnesota, he hit .252/.311/.437 (.748) with 35 home runs and a more strikeouts (251) than hits (197). While Ortiz showed flashes of brilliance in the upper minors, Vargas posted a .248 batting average in 630 Triple-A at-bats. Vargas might the definition of a replacement level player. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/973962957653553152 Ortiz became known for his clutch hits to help the Red Sox win multiple championships. Vargas struggled to be successful in high-leverage spots on rebuilding Twins teams. Because both the Twins and Red Sox train in Fort Myers, Vargas and Ortiz have become acquaintances over the years. In fact, a friendship has developed between these Caribbean born players. Vargas also knows it took Ortiz multiple years to make it as a big leaguer. “He was in my spot years and years ago,” Vargas told the Pioneer Press. “He just trusted in himself, and he found a spot and (won) three World Series.” Vargas is still searching for his spot and now he’s back with the organization he’s known for his entire career.
  16. It’s been a whirlwind week for Mr. Kennys Vargas. After spending his entire career in the Twins organization, Vargas was put on waivers earlier this week and claimed by the Reds. His tenure in a Cincinnati uniform didn’t last long. Now just two days later, he finds himself back with the TwinsVargas was designated for assignment by Cincinnati and Minnesota claimed him back. The Reds seemed like a tough spot for Vargas to fit, with Joey Votto occupying first base and no designated hitter in the National League. Because of his switch-hitting ability, there was some thought that he could serve as a bench bat or the club could try to sneak him through waivers to the minors. That plan didn’t work as he is back in Minnesota. Some Twins fans were a little paranoid about losing Vargas. It’s hard to blame fans for remembering when the club made one of the biggest judgment gaffes in baseball history. Letting David Ortiz go was a mistake. Even former General Manager Terry Ryan has admitted as much. But let’s make one thing clear… Kennys Vargas isn’t David Ortiz. It’s easy to see why fans can see similarities between the two players. Both players fit a similar profile as large men who have little to no defensive value. Even more eerie might be the fact that the Twins let both players go entering their age-27 season. Beyond those surface level similarities, there are some stark differences between these two players. Ortiz broke into the majors as a 21-year old in 1997. He played a little over 100 games through his first three seasons before becoming a regular player in 2000. From 1997-2002, he hit 266/.348/.461 (.809) while averaging 10 home runs and 18 doubles per season. He also had 339 strikeouts compared to 186 walks in 455 games. His best season in Minnesota was his last as he hit .272/.339/.500 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs in 125 games. He battled injuries throughout his time in a Twins uniform. During the 2002-2003 off-season, Ortiz was due to make roughly $2 million through the arbitration process. Matt LeCroy would take over the designated hitter role with Doug Mientkiewicz penciled in at first base. Justin Morneau was closing in on the big leagues as well. “There wasn’t any one thing,” Terry Ryan told MLB.com. “If you look at his numbers across the board, they were very respectable. And not that it was totally about money, but we were a little bit strapped. That would be a good excuse, but it wasn’t that entirely. It was just a bad error in judgment of a guy’s talent.” Ortiz would sign with the Red Sox for $1.25 million and the rest is history. Vargas is a much different story. He made his debut as a 23-year old in 2014. During his four seasons in Minnesota, he hit .252/.311/.437 (.748) with 35 home runs and a more strikeouts (251) than hits (197). While Ortiz showed flashes of brilliance in the upper minors, Vargas posted a .248 batting average in 630 Triple-A at-bats. Vargas might the definition of a replacement level player. Ortiz became known for his clutch hits to help the Red Sox win multiple championships. Vargas struggled to be successful in high-leverage spots on rebuilding Twins teams. Because both the Twins and Red Sox train in Fort Myers, Vargas and Ortiz have become acquaintances over the years. In fact, a friendship has developed between these Caribbean born players. Vargas also knows it took Ortiz multiple years to make it as a big leaguer. “He was in my spot years and years ago,” Vargas told the Pioneer Press. “He just trusted in himself, and he found a spot and (won) three World Series.” Vargas is still searching for his spot and now he’s back with the organization he’s known for his entire career. Click here to view the article
  17. January 7, 1982 Twins Acquire Mario Look-Alike The Twins trade Class-A prospects Scotti Madison and Paul Voigt to the Dodgers for center fielder Bobby Mitchell and pitcher Bobby Castillo, owner of one of the all-time Top 5 greatest mustaches in Twins history. Castillo won 13 games for the Twins in 1982. That would have led the team in six of the past ten seasons (2008, '11–'13, and '15–'16). Who do you think had the best (or worst) mustache in Twins history? January 8, 1991 Carew Elected to Hall of Fame Seven-time AL Batting Champ Rod Carew becomes the 21st first-ballot Hall of Famer, elected alongside Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins. Despite appearing on 90.5% of ballots, a staggering 42 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America deemed Carew unworthy. The Veterans Committee elected former second baseman Tony Lazzeri and owner/promoter Bill Veeck, father of Mike Veeck, who in 1993 founded the current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints with Bill Murray and lawyer Marv Goldklang. Rodney Cline Carew was born on a train in the Panama Canal Zone on October 1, 1945. When he was 14 his family immigrated to New York, where he would be discovered by a Twins scout playing semi-pro ball in the Bronx rather than high school ball. The Twins signed Carew in 1964 at age 18, and he made the major league club in 1967 at age 21. Carew had the first five-hit game in Twins history on May 8, 1967, going 5-for-5 with a double. He made the AL All-Star team his rookie season, beginning a string of 18-consecutive All-Star selections. He was an All-Star every year of his career but the last, 1985. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year, receiving 19 of 20 first-place votes. There have been five AL Rookies of the Year in Twins History: Tony Oliva in 1964, Carew in ‘67, John Castino (co-winner) in 1979, Chuck Knoblauch in 1991, and Marty Cordova in 1995. Bob Allison won the award as a member of the 1959 Washington Senators. Carew was a terror on the basepaths. On May 18, 1969 he stole second, third, and home consecutively off the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich. César Tovar led off the bottom of third with a single. Then, with Carew at the plate, Tovar was balked to second and stole third. Perhaps distracted by Tovar, Lolich walked Carew. Then, with Harmon Killebrew at the plate, the Twins executed a double steal, with Carew swiping second as Tovar stole home. With Killebrew still at bat, Carew stole third and home to tie the game. Killebrew ultimately struck out, and the Twins went on to lose the game 8-2. Carew is one of just 12 players since 1940 to achieve this feat. Paul Molitor pulled it off on July 26, 1987. Carew stole home 17 times in his career. The single-season record is eight, set by Ty Cobb in 1912. Carew stole home for the seventh time of the season on July 16, 1969. American League pitchers finally got wise to his game, however, and he did not pull it off again the rest of the season. He did, however, add a tenth-inning walk-off steal of home on September 1, 1970. Current Twins manager Paul Molitor, incidentally, stole home 10 times in his career. Dan Gladden did it three times. Carew hit for the first of 10 cycles in Twins history on May 20, 1970. The others are César Tovar (1972), Larry Hisle (‘76), Lyman Bostock (‘76), Mike Cubbage (‘78), Gary Ward (‘80), Kirby Puckett (‘86), Carlos Gómez (‘08), Jason Kubel (‘09) and Michael Cuddyer (‘09). On September 9, 1976 Carew hit a pinch-hit grand slam. It was just his seventh home run of the season, but his third grand slam, tying Bob Allison’s single-season team record, set in 1961. Kent Hrbek later hit three grand slams in 1985, Puckett in ‘92, and Torii Hunter in 2007. 1977 was a magical season for Carew. On June 26 (Rod Carew Jersey Day, incidentally), he went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .403. He scored a team record five runs in the game, while Glenn Adams collected a team record eight RBI. Carew’s record of five runs would be matched by Tim Teufel in 1983, Molitor in ‘96, and Luis Rivas in 2002. Adams’ record eight RBI were matched by Randy Bush in 1989. Carew led the majors with 239 hits and a .388 AVG in 1977, and was named American League MVP. He was the third of five Twins to receive the award (Versalles ‘65, Killebrew ‘69, Morneau ‘06, Mauer ‘09). On February 3, 1979 the Twins traded Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner’s Lion’s Club dinner remarks in Waseca on September 28. On August 4, 1989, Carew connected for his 3,000th hit off Twins lefty Frank Viola. He was the 16th member of the 3,000 Hit Club, and the first born outside of the United States mainland (Roberto Clemente was born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico). 1985 was Carew’s final season. After failing to receive a suitable contract offer for the ‘86 season, he officially announced his retirement on June 2 with a career AVG of .328. Owners had colluded against him and other free agents, essentially agreeing not to offer other teams' free agents contracts, thereby helping each other retain their own talent while keeping salaries low. In 1995 Carew was awarded $782,035.71 in damages for his lost wages. The Twins retired Rod Carew’s number 29 on July 19, 1987. The Angels had retired his number in ‘86. He was inducted as a charter member of the Twins Hall of Fame along with Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, and Calvin Griffith on August 12, 2000. January 10, 1984 Killebrew Elected to Hall of Fame In his fourth damn year of eligibility the Baseball Writers’ Association of America finally elects Harmon Killebrew to the Hall of Fame, along with Luis Aparicio (sixth ballot), and 1965 World Series nemesis Don Drysdale (10th ballot). Veterans Committee selections Rick Ferrell and Pee Wee Reese would also be inducted with the class of ’84. The Senators signed the 17-year-old Idahoan in 1954 as a so-called “Bonus Baby,” which required them to keep the kid on the major league roster his first two seasons. He got into just 47 games during those two years, making 104 plate appearances. He did hit the first four of his 573 career home runs in 1955. He then spent the majority of the next three seasons in the minors. Washington’s patience would pay huge dividends. In 1959, his first season as a full-timer, Killebrew tied for the league lead with 42 home runs and drove in 105 runs. Killebrew collected the first regular season hit in Twins history leading off the fourth with a single off Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1961. Bob Allison hit the Twins’ first home run later in that game, but Killebrew would have the distinction of hitting the first inside-the-park home run in Twins history vs. the White Sox at Met Stadium on July 4th. Later in the game, trailing the White Sox by two with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Julio Becquer hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam. Killebrew was known throughout his career not just for the sheer quantity, but also the mammoth quality of his home runs. Facing future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on August 3, 1962, Killebrew hit a monster home run over the roof and out of Tiger Stadium. Killer was the first of four to accomplish this feat of strength, the others being Frank Howard, Mark McGwire, and Cecil Fielder. On June 3, 1967 he hit perhaps his most famous homer, a prodigious blast at Met stadium eventually estimated by a physics professor at 522 feet. Killebrew was the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player after leading the majors with 49 home runs and 140 RBI. Not surprisingly those are both Twins single-season records. He also hit 49 in ‘64. Killebrew set another team record by homering in five consecutive games on two separate occasions during the Twins’ 1970 Division Championship season. Rookie Marty Cordova tied that record in just his 23rd major league game on May 20, 1995. Brian Dozier homered in five straight in 2016, including a three-home run game on September 5. Killebrew hit 41 homers during that 1970 season. It would be the Twins’ last 40-home run season until Dozier hit 42 in 2016, forty-frickin’-six years later. So much for the Steroid Era in Minnesota. Harmon hit his 500th and 501st home runs on August 10, 1971. All told, he would hit 573, fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson. He is still 12th all-time. 38-year-old Adrian Beltre, and 34-year-old Miguel Cabrera are sitting on 462. After he refused Calvin Griffith’s contract offer, the Twins released Killebrew on January 16, 1975. To this day nobody has played more games in a Twins uniform. The Kansas City Royals quickly signed the Killer on January 24. The Twins officially retired his #3 before a game vs. KC on May 4, 1975. As long as so many fans were there to honor him anyway, Harmon went ahead and homered in the first inning. On September 18, he hit his 573rd and final home run off the Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Bane. Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011 after a brief battle with esophageal cancer. He was just 74 years old. To put a silver lining around an otherwise sucky situation, the Twins were in town to play the Diamondbacks, and able to attend Harmon’s funeral on May 20. Bert Blyleven spoke at the service, and Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Ron Gardenhire, and Paul Molitor served as pallbearers. The Twins held a public memorial at Target Field six days later. In addition to an All-Star lineup of Twins past and present, the event was attended by Commissioner Selig and Hank Aaron. January 11, 1973 AL Adopts DH In an effort spearheaded by Oakland Athletics’ owner Charlie Finley, American League owners vote 8-4 in favor of adopting the designated hitter. Tony Oliva would hit the first regular season home run by a DH off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter on Opening Day (April 6, 1973). January 12, 1898 Birthdate of Rip Wade It’s the birthdate of 1916 Denfeld High School grad Richard “Rip” Wade, born in Duluth in 1898 (120 years ago). Wade played outfield in 19 games, and pinch-hit in 14 more for the 1923 Washington Senators, going 16-for-69 (.232), with 14 RBI and eight runs scored. Duluth’s Wade Stadium is named after Rip’s dad, Frank. January 12, 2013 Ryan Receives Genovese Award Twins GM Terry Ryan receives the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s 10th annual "In The Spirit of the Game" Sports and Entertainment Spectacular in Los Angeles. The Foundation created the award in honor of the legendary SoCal scout in 2003. Ryan’s relationship with the Twins began in 1972 when they drafted the Janesville, WI native in the 35th round. The lefty went 10-0 with a 1.70 ERA at Class A Wisconsin Rapids in ‘73. After an arm injury, however, he struggled at Double-A Orlando until being released in June 1976. Ryan joined the Mets as a scouting supervisor in 1980. In 1986 he returned to the Twins organization as scouting director. He ascended to vice president of player personnel in 1991, and became GM following Andy MacPhail’s departure to the Chicago Cubs after the ‘94 season. Ryan served as GM for 13 years before resigning on October 1, 2007. He remained with the Twins as an adviser while Bill Smith took over as GM. After Smith’s firing following the 2011 season, Ryan returned to his former post. He was fired on July 18, 2016, midway through the worst season in franchise history. Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail hired Terry Ryan as a special assignment scout on November 30, 2016. January 13 Happy 64th Birthday, Steve Comer It’s the birthday of 1972 Minnetonka grad, Golden Gophers all-time great, and former major league pitcher Steve Comer. Comer was a four-year starter at the University of Minnesota, and still holds school records with 30 wins and 25 complete games. He went on to pitch parts of seven major league seasons with the Rangers (‘78-’82), Phillies (‘83), and Cleveland (‘84), compiling a record of 44-37 with 13 saves, 4.13 ERA, and a 1.445 WHIP in 176 games (83 starts). He averaged 3.1 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  18. This week’s Almanac marks the birthdates of Minnesotan major leaguers Rip Wade and Steve Comer, as well as two very memorable anniversaries for Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew. It was also this week in history that the AL adopted the DH, the Twins acquired a Mario look-alike, and Terry Ryan received a scouting award. January 7, 1982 Twins Acquire Mario Look-Alike The Twins trade Class-A prospects Scotti Madison and Paul Voigt to the Dodgers for center fielder Bobby Mitchell and pitcher Bobby Castillo, owner of one of the all-time Top 5 greatest mustaches in Twins history. Castillo won 13 games for the Twins in 1982. That would have led the team in six of the past ten seasons (2008, '11–'13, and '15–'16). Who do you think had the best (or worst) mustache in Twins history? January 8, 1991 Carew Elected to Hall of Fame Seven-time AL Batting Champ Rod Carew becomes the 21st first-ballot Hall of Famer, elected alongside Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins. Despite appearing on 90.5% of ballots, a staggering 42 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America deemed Carew unworthy. The Veterans Committee elected former second baseman Tony Lazzeri and owner/promoter Bill Veeck, father of Mike Veeck, who in 1993 founded the current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints with Bill Murray and lawyer Marv Goldklang. Rodney Cline Carew was born on a train in the Panama Canal Zone on October 1, 1945. When he was 14 his family immigrated to New York, where he would be discovered by a Twins scout playing semi-pro ball in the Bronx rather than high school ball. The Twins signed Carew in 1964 at age 18, and he made the major league club in 1967 at age 21. Carew had the first five-hit game in Twins history on May 8, 1967, going 5-for-5 with a double. He made the AL All-Star team his rookie season, beginning a string of 18-consecutive All-Star selections. He was an All-Star every year of his career but the last, 1985. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year, receiving 19 of 20 first-place votes. There have been five AL Rookies of the Year in Twins History: Tony Oliva in 1964, Carew in ‘67, John Castino (co-winner) in 1979, Chuck Knoblauch in 1991, and Marty Cordova in 1995. Bob Allison won the award as a member of the 1959 Washington Senators. Carew was a terror on the basepaths. On May 18, 1969 he stole second, third, and home consecutively off the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich. César Tovar led off the bottom of third with a single. Then, with Carew at the plate, Tovar was balked to second and stole third. Perhaps distracted by Tovar, Lolich walked Carew. Then, with Harmon Killebrew at the plate, the Twins executed a double steal, with Carew swiping second as Tovar stole home. With Killebrew still at bat, Carew stole third and home to tie the game. Killebrew ultimately struck out, and the Twins went on to lose the game 8-2. Carew is one of just 12 players since 1940 to achieve this feat. Paul Molitor pulled it off on July 26, 1987. Carew stole home 17 times in his career. The single-season record is eight, set by Ty Cobb in 1912. Carew stole home for the seventh time of the season on July 16, 1969. American League pitchers finally got wise to his game, however, and he did not pull it off again the rest of the season. He did, however, add a tenth-inning walk-off steal of home on September 1, 1970. Current Twins manager Paul Molitor, incidentally, stole home 10 times in his career. Dan Gladden did it three times. Carew hit for the first of 10 cycles in Twins history on May 20, 1970. The others are César Tovar (1972), Larry Hisle (‘76), Lyman Bostock (‘76), Mike Cubbage (‘78), Gary Ward (‘80), Kirby Puckett (‘86), Carlos Gómez (‘08), Jason Kubel (‘09) and Michael Cuddyer (‘09). On September 9, 1976 Carew hit a pinch-hit grand slam. It was just his seventh home run of the season, but his third grand slam, tying Bob Allison’s single-season team record, set in 1961. Kent Hrbek later hit three grand slams in 1985, Puckett in ‘92, and Torii Hunter in 2007. 1977 was a magical season for Carew. On June 26 (Rod Carew Jersey Day, incidentally), he went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .403. He scored a team record five runs in the game, while Glenn Adams collected a team record eight RBI. Carew’s record of five runs would be matched by Tim Teufel in 1983, Molitor in ‘96, and Luis Rivas in 2002. Adams’ record eight RBI were matched by Randy Bush in 1989. Carew led the majors with 239 hits and a .388 AVG in 1977, and was named American League MVP. He was the third of five Twins to receive the award (Versalles ‘65, Killebrew ‘69, Morneau ‘06, Mauer ‘09). On February 3, 1979 the Twins traded Rod Carew to the Angels for Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Brad Havens and Paul Hartzell. It had become increasingly clear that team owner Calvin Griffith had no intention of ponying up for the future Hall of Famer. And even if Griffith could have afforded him, it was unlikely that Carew would have played for Griffith again after the owner’s Lion’s Club dinner remarks in Waseca on September 28. On August 4, 1989, Carew connected for his 3,000th hit off Twins lefty Frank Viola. He was the 16th member of the 3,000 Hit Club, and the first born outside of the United States mainland (Roberto Clemente was born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico). 1985 was Carew’s final season. After failing to receive a suitable contract offer for the ‘86 season, he officially announced his retirement on June 2 with a career AVG of .328. Owners had colluded against him and other free agents, essentially agreeing not to offer other teams' free agents contracts, thereby helping each other retain their own talent while keeping salaries low. In 1995 Carew was awarded $782,035.71 in damages for his lost wages. The Twins retired Rod Carew’s number 29 on July 19, 1987. The Angels had retired his number in ‘86. He was inducted as a charter member of the Twins Hall of Fame along with Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, and Calvin Griffith on August 12, 2000. January 10, 1984 Killebrew Elected to Hall of Fame In his fourth damn year of eligibility the Baseball Writers’ Association of America finally elects Harmon Killebrew to the Hall of Fame, along with Luis Aparicio (sixth ballot), and 1965 World Series nemesis Don Drysdale (10th ballot). Veterans Committee selections Rick Ferrell and Pee Wee Reese would also be inducted with the class of ’84. The Senators signed the 17-year-old Idahoan in 1954 as a so-called “Bonus Baby,” which required them to keep the kid on the major league roster his first two seasons. He got into just 47 games during those two years, making 104 plate appearances. He did hit the first four of his 573 career home runs in 1955. He then spent the majority of the next three seasons in the minors. Washington’s patience would pay huge dividends. In 1959, his first season as a full-timer, Killebrew tied for the league lead with 42 home runs and drove in 105 runs. Killebrew collected the first regular season hit in Twins history leading off the fourth with a single off Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1961. Bob Allison hit the Twins’ first home run later in that game, but Killebrew would have the distinction of hitting the first inside-the-park home run in Twins history vs. the White Sox at Met Stadium on July 4th. Later in the game, trailing the White Sox by two with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Julio Becquer hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam. Killebrew was known throughout his career not just for the sheer quantity, but also the mammoth quality of his home runs. Facing future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on August 3, 1962, Killebrew hit a monster home run over the roof and out of Tiger Stadium. Killer was the first of four to accomplish this feat of strength, the others being Frank Howard, Mark McGwire, and Cecil Fielder. On June 3, 1967 he hit perhaps his most famous homer, a prodigious blast at Met stadium eventually estimated by a physics professor at 522 feet. Killebrew was the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player after leading the majors with 49 home runs and 140 RBI. Not surprisingly those are both Twins single-season records. He also hit 49 in ‘64. Killebrew set another team record by homering in five consecutive games on two separate occasions during the Twins’ 1970 Division Championship season. Rookie Marty Cordova tied that record in just his 23rd major league game on May 20, 1995. Brian Dozier homered in five straight in 2016, including a three-home run game on September 5. Killebrew hit 41 homers during that 1970 season. It would be the Twins’ last 40-home run season until Dozier hit 42 in 2016, forty-frickin’-six years later. So much for the Steroid Era in Minnesota. Harmon hit his 500th and 501st home runs on August 10, 1971. All told, he would hit 573, fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson. He is still 12th all-time. 38-year-old Adrian Beltre, and 34-year-old Miguel Cabrera are sitting on 462. After he refused Calvin Griffith’s contract offer, the Twins released Killebrew on January 16, 1975. To this day nobody has played more games in a Twins uniform. The Kansas City Royals quickly signed the Killer on January 24. The Twins officially retired his #3 before a game vs. KC on May 4, 1975. As long as so many fans were there to honor him anyway, Harmon went ahead and homered in the first inning. On September 18, he hit his 573rd and final home run off the Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Bane. Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011 after a brief battle with esophageal cancer. He was just 74 years old. To put a silver lining around an otherwise sucky situation, the Twins were in town to play the Diamondbacks, and able to attend Harmon’s funeral on May 20. Bert Blyleven spoke at the service, and Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Ron Gardenhire, and Paul Molitor served as pallbearers. The Twins held a public memorial at Target Field six days later. In addition to an All-Star lineup of Twins past and present, the event was attended by Commissioner Selig and Hank Aaron. January 11, 1973 AL Adopts DH In an effort spearheaded by Oakland Athletics’ owner Charlie Finley, American League owners vote 8-4 in favor of adopting the designated hitter. Tony Oliva would hit the first regular season home run by a DH off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter on Opening Day (April 6, 1973). January 12, 1898 Birthdate of Rip Wade It’s the birthdate of 1916 Denfeld High School grad Richard “Rip” Wade, born in Duluth in 1898 (120 years ago). Wade played outfield in 19 games, and pinch-hit in 14 more for the 1923 Washington Senators, going 16-for-69 (.232), with 14 RBI and eight runs scored. Duluth’s Wade Stadium is named after Rip’s dad, Frank. January 12, 2013 Ryan Receives Genovese Award Twins GM Terry Ryan receives the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s 10th annual "In The Spirit of the Game" Sports and Entertainment Spectacular in Los Angeles. The Foundation created the award in honor of the legendary SoCal scout in 2003. Ryan’s relationship with the Twins began in 1972 when they drafted the Janesville, WI native in the 35th round. The lefty went 10-0 with a 1.70 ERA at Class A Wisconsin Rapids in ‘73. After an arm injury, however, he struggled at Double-A Orlando until being released in June 1976. Ryan joined the Mets as a scouting supervisor in 1980. In 1986 he returned to the Twins organization as scouting director. He ascended to vice president of player personnel in 1991, and became GM following Andy MacPhail’s departure to the Chicago Cubs after the ‘94 season. Ryan served as GM for 13 years before resigning on October 1, 2007. He remained with the Twins as an adviser while Bill Smith took over as GM. After Smith’s firing following the 2011 season, Ryan returned to his former post. He was fired on July 18, 2016, midway through the worst season in franchise history. Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail hired Terry Ryan as a special assignment scout on November 30, 2016. January 13 Happy 64th Birthday, Steve Comer It’s the birthday of 1972 Minnetonka grad, Golden Gophers all-time great, and former major league pitcher Steve Comer. Comer was a four-year starter at the University of Minnesota, and still holds school records with 30 wins and 25 complete games. He went on to pitch parts of seven major league seasons with the Rangers (‘78-’82), Phillies (‘83), and Cleveland (‘84), compiling a record of 44-37 with 13 saves, 4.13 ERA, and a 1.445 WHIP in 176 games (83 starts). He averaged 3.1 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook. Click here to view the article
  19. There was a time, particularly during his first stint as Twins GM, that Terry Ryan was a trading partner to be feared, largely because of his ability to turn throw-in prospects into major league contributors. There are stories -- likely apocryphal -- of opposing GMs deeming a low-level prospect untouchable because Ryan had been inquiring as to his availability. The reputation wasn’t without merit: Dave Hollins became David Ortiz; Chuck Knoblauch turned into Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Buck Buchanan (who was later spun for Jason Bartlett), Danny Mota, and cash; and Milton was subsequently dealt for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto, and Bobby Korecky. Not every deal came out perfectly, but Ryan consistently extracted enough extra value in trades to give his colleagues pause. It’s easy to look back at the deal that brought Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski as an obvious one to make. Joe Mauer was coming off a solid season between A and AA, and it was a foregone conclusion that he would take over behind the plate sooner rather than later. For that to happen, Pierzynski needed to clear out or change positions, and the latter wasn’t happening, so of course Ryan would deal him to clear space for Mauer. But while Mauer was hitting well in the minors -- particularly for his age level -- he wasn’t beating down the doors. As a 20 year old, he hit .338/.398/.434 including a stint in the Arizona Fall League; Pierzynski hit .312/.360/.464 in the majors that season, earning a deserved All-Star selection. And at 26, it isn’t as though Pierzynski was at the end of his career, or even at the end of his prime, so Ryan’s decision to move him after back-to-back great season could have backfired badly had Mauer not made the jump as well as he did. As it turned out, Ryan moved Pierzynski at the absolute peak of his value. While he remained a solid catcher through his age-38 season -- which shouldn’t be glossed over, that’s an incredible achievement -- he never returned to the All-Star game and only twice put up above-average offensive numbers. In return for this desirable asset, Ryan got a once-prized prospect who had lost a bit of his luster (Bonser), a converted outfielder who was coming off back-to-back seasons of injury issues (Liriano), and a former shortstop who wasn't far removed from shoulder surgery himself (Nathan). A former first round pick, Bonser had the pedigree to succeed, and (just like many of Ryan’s other finds) he did make contributions to the major league team, even if he was clearly the worst of the acquired players. He gave the 2006 Twins 18 starts and ended the year fractionally above average by ERA+ and with a 1.0 fWAR. Great? Hardly. But he was just 24, so it would have been a solid foundation for him to build on as he rose to being a mid-rotation piece...except that those 18 starts marked the best year of his career. Even if he wasn’t spectacularly bad, Bonser neither generated enough groundballs nor missed enough bats to make it in the majors and a torn labrum in 20009 ended his time with the Twins. Liriano’s arm had already been an issue when the Twins acquired him and it would continue to plague him throughout his career, though to his credit, he has continued to rehab and make it back to the majors every time he has gone under the knife. Still, his career would be typified by terms like “serviceable” and “solid” were it not for his unforgettable rookie season in 2006. His 2006 line is staggering: 3.6 fWAR, 1.00 WHIP, 2.16 ERA, and 10.71 K/9, but that actually undersells how good he was that year. Liriano wasn’t well-suited to pitching out of the bullpen, but that’s how he began the season (even recording a three-out save in a game which the Twins won by 10 runs, because of course he did) which included a three-inning relief appearance after the Tigers bombed Carlos Silva out of an April game. Liriano fared little better, giving up 5 ER in just 3 IP. Look at his numbers once he joined the rotation full time in May, and they’re even better: 1.92 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 112/28 K/BB ratio, and opposing hitters hit a pathetic .181/.244/.281 off of him. But the arm issues caught up to him once again. He threw just six innings after July 28 and would miss all of the 2007 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. His 2010 season showed glimpses of the form that had made him so unbelievably dominant in 2006, and the fact that he had 31 healthy starts means his counting stats look better, but he never did fully recover the form he had shown. He gave everyone a season to dream on and enough flashes of brilliance to bounce around the league for another decade and counting, but the consistent excellence he showed once seems to be part of his legend rather than his actual legacy. The Baseball Prospectus comment on Nathan prior to the 2003 season began “Nathan continued his comeback from shoulder surgery in 2000, with a year that was impressive only relative to the year before. He was never a great prospect, even before the shoulder woes, but he could be a serviceable innings-eater in middle relief.” Put another way: If you don’t have a player like this in your minor league system, the cupboard is so impossibly bare, it beggars belief. You don’t trade for players like this, they just appear on your AAA roster as if placed there by an occult hand. And to be fair, eating innings is exactly what Nathan did in 2003: His first year as a full-time reliever in the majors, Nathan appeared in just shy of half the Giants’ games, racking up 79 innings in 78 starts. Prior to the 2004 season, Prospectus noted that Nathan had looked leaps and bounds better the previous year than he ever had before -- and how right they were! -- but cautioned that this could be an aberration because it seemingly came out of nowhere. Here, too, they were right: 2003 was an aberration for Nathan, because for the decade following, he never again had a season as bad as 2003 when he was healthy for a full year. 2004 started with a closer-by-committee set-up with Nathan, Juan Rincon, and even a fleeting appearance from Joe Roa before he was relegated to mop-up duty, but by mid-April, the job was Nathan’s to lose. The next time someone besides Nathan would lead the team in saves was 2010, when Jon Rauch stepped in while Nathan was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Like Liriano, there were serious concerns about Nathan’s ability to stay healthy during his time in the minors, but after he moved to the bullpen, those concerns all but vanished. He finished his career with the 8th most saves of all time and appeared in the 54th most games. Of the three players acquired for Pierzynski following the 2003 season, Nathan had by far the best career; taking everyone involved in the deal, only Mauer has a claim at being a better player than Nathan. Whatever the Twins thought they were getting in Nathan, no matter how much Ryan and his staff believed that 2003 was indicative of what he could be, Nathan exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. He filled a hole that had existed since the end of Rick Aguilera’s second stint with the team (Mike Trombley notwithstanding) and held it down through some of the team’s best years post-1991. It’s fitting to see him end such a stellar career as a Twin. The Pierzynski-for-prospects deal is widely considered a heist, Ryan’s Robbery if you will. Some of that is due to Pierzysnki’s decline and some is due to Liriano’s apotheosis in 2006, but given that Bonser added almost nothing and Liriano was more frustration than fulfillment, the idea that the trade was as lopsided as it was confirms just how good Nathan was: If the deal had been a straight Nathan-for-Pierzynski swap, would the reviews be all that much less glowing?
  20. The Positive Molitor has managed three seasons and in two of those years he has had the Twins in surprise contention for the playoffs. During his rookie managerial season, the Twins fought off their recent losing trend as the club was in the playoff hunt until the season's last weekend. An 83-79 record was a vast improvement compared to four straight 90-loss seasons under Ron Gardenhire. Players like Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano posted strong numbers at the plate under the leadership of a Hall of Fame hitter. The 2017 campaign has been up and down to say the least. Minnesota somehow finds themselves in the thick of the wild card race even though they have been outscored by over 50 runs. A young core of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are supplementing a rotation led by Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. For the second time in three years, Molitor has the Twins in position to make the playoffs which is something the Twins haven't seen since 2010. The Negative It's hard to forget how bad the Twins were in 2016. The team fumbled and stumbled their way to a franchise-worst 103 losses. Moving Sano to the outfield was a disaster while the pitching staff was one of the worst in the game. In the end, the Twins fired long-time general manager Terry Ryan. A roster reconstruction was needed and Minnesota's young core needed more time to develop. It was time for a change but the team's ownership stood behind Molitor. As the hunt started for men to lead the baseball operations department, Twins owner Jim Pohlad made it clear that Paul Molitor wasn't going anywhere. Some thought this might have handcuffed the Twins in their search for new front office personnel. However, the Twins have rarely made changes under Pohlad ownership. For example, the team has employed only three managers since the 1987 campaign. With changes happening in the front office, it was an interesting stance for the owner to take, and now the future is murky. The Future Molitor's three-year contract is expiring at season's end and this time Pohlad isn't insisting on him returning as manager. He told the Star Tribune that he wants Molitor back for 2018 but that will be up to Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Pohlad said, "I know how much they value the relationship between them and the manager, and the engagement with the whole baseball staff. They are going to make the decision." It will be a decision that won't be made until after the 2017 campaign. Falvey and Levine have already been making changes to the front office. Longtime executive and current scout Wayne Krivsky was fired along with four other scouts. Part of the agreement when Falvey joined the Twins was that he couldn't bring any scouts with him from Cleveland during his first year. That calendar year will be expiring soon and the new front office wants some fresh faces. "The Twins are a proud, historic franchise with a lot of people who are deeply connected to the organization," Falvey said. "We didn't want to make a lot of changes at the outset and bring in a whole new staff. We set a new direction and vision, let people know what expectations were of them, and then let people do their jobs. And we're learning a lot about people." Has Molitor met the expectations of the new front office? Do the Twins need to make the playoffs for him to save his job? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. Throughout his professional career, Polanco has played over 3300 innings at shortstop. Unfortunately, he didn't play an inning at short to start the 2016 season. Before being called up in July to take over the Twins shortstop role, he started 64 games at second base and two games at third base. Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked about Polanco's handling during the 2016 campaign. He told the Star Tribune, "I wish I had a better explanation for you. But I think myself, a lot of other people, realized we didn't handle it the right way." To be clear, this shouldn't be something Molitor has to worry about or apologize for in the press. His job is to run the major league squad on a daily basis. There would be reports coming from the minor league level but a directive for positioning of players would need to come from the front office. As the Twins were getting close to calling up Polanco, the team was also in the midst of firing general manager Terry Ryan. It was also nearing the trade deadline when the Twins would make multiple moves. Polanco's positioning at Rochester might have gotten lost in the shuffle but this still shouldn't be an excuse for it falling through the cracks. Polanco isn't a perfect shortstop. There are questions about his arm at the position and whether he has the range to make all the necessary plays. In over 400 MLB innings last year, he committed 11 errors in 189 chances (.942 FLD%). This fielding percentage was 10 points higher than his professional average. Some of his defensive flaws at shortstop show up in some of the other defensive metrics. Defensive runs saved (DRS) had him at 8 runs below average. Ultimate zone rating (UZR) was even lower as it put him at 10.9 runs below average. These numbers will obviously need to improve for him to stick at shortstop through the coming season. There are benefits to having infielders who are versatile. However, it also helps for players to get as much experience as possible at the position that could be their ticket to the big leagues. Polanco was in his age-22 season and he lost half a year of development at shortstop. Polanco's 2016 season might have included an organizational gaffe but spring is a time to turn the page. The Twins might have blundered but he will get every opportunity to prove he can stick at shortstop. Who's to blame in the Polanco blunder? Should Molitor have been monitoring more of the minor leagues? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  22. One last reminder: you can still join Seth, Jeremy, The Voice of Reason, other Twins Daily folks and me at the Diamond Awards this Thursday night. Just sign up and in their "comments field" tell them that you want sit at the Twins Daily tables.Join Twins Daily writers in fighting some terrible diseases by attending the 2017 Diamond Awards. Seth, Jeremy and John will host as many tables as we can of Twins Daily members for this fantastic fundraiser inside Target Field. First, buy tickets to the 2017 Diamond Awards. It’s awesome, truly a bucket list item for Twins fans; just check out the photos and . It’s the night before Twins Fest (January 26th), so it’ll be a star-studded affair including an awards dinner celebrating the Diamond Awards winners, including Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Terry Ryan. Tickets are $150 each but the proceeds go to the University of Minnesota to cure some pretty terrible diseases, like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), ataxia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease. It is a great cause and a fantastic time and Seth, Jeremy and I would love to share it with you. To join us, just write that you want to be at the Twins Daily table in the “comments” box at the end of the signup form. Or, if you’ve already signed up, let me know in the comments below and I’ll work with the organizers to make sure you are seated with us. We would love to get a big group together and talk a lot of baseball or get your thoughts on the site. This is truly a special opportunity to attend one of the Twins premier annual events that celebrates their team and their fans. Plus, it’s an exceptional cause and a chance to see the best of Target Field on one of the coldest weekends of the year. Let’s recharge our batteries and get ready for a great weekend and a great year together. If you have any questions or concerns, use the comments. But please click the link below and give it a try this year. You won’t regret it. BUY TICKETS OR LEARN MORE HERE Click here to view the article
  23. Join Twins Daily writers in fighting some terrible diseases by attending the 2017 Diamond Awards. Seth, Jeremy and John will host as many tables as we can of Twins Daily members for this fantastic fundraiser inside Target Field. First, buy tickets to the 2017 Diamond Awards. It’s awesome, truly a bucket list item for Twins fans; just check out the photos and . It’s the night before Twins Fest (January 26th), so it’ll be a star-studded affair including an awards dinner celebrating the Diamond Awards winners, including Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Terry Ryan.Tickets are $150 each but the proceeds go to the University of Minnesota to cure some pretty terrible diseases, like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), ataxia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease. It is a great cause and a fantastic time and Seth, Jeremy and I would love to share it with you. To join us, just write that you want to be at the Twins Daily table in the “comments” box at the end of the signup form. Or, if you’ve already signed up, let me know in the comments below and I’ll work with the organizers to make sure you are seated with us. We would love to get a big group together and talk a lot of baseball or get your thoughts on the site. This is truly a special opportunity to attend one of the Twins premier annual events that celebrates their team and their fans. Plus, it’s an exceptional cause and a chance to see the best of Target Field on one of the coldest weekends of the year. Let’s recharge our batteries and get ready for a great weekend and a great year together. If you have any questions or concerns, use the comments. But please click the link below and give it a try this year. You won’t regret it. BUY TICKETS OR LEARN MORE HERE
  24. I saw that the Philles just signed Pedro Florimon to a minor-league deal. This caught my attention since, of course, Terry Ryan joined the Philly front office a couple weeks ago. So I went and looked to see when the Twins first acquired him. It was December of 2011, less than a month after TR retook the reigns as Twins GM. Funny. (Of course, Florimon went on to put up a .567 OPS over the next three seasons.)
  25. In the last couple of weeks, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have been busy and things are about to get even busier. As we discussed yesterday, the Twins have until Friday night to offer arbitration to five players (Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly, and Eduardo Escobar). Be sure to stop by throughout the day to find out if any players were not tendered a contract. Two days after introducing Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins and Torii Hunter as new Special Assistants to Baseball Operations, the Twins made official their signing of catcher Jason Castro. The three year, $24.5 million deal is the largest free agent contract handed out to a new Twins position player. In Wednesday's press conference, Derek Falvey acknowledged that Castro was "identified early on as an important target for us this offseason. He was somebody that we talked about from Day 1." On Thursday, George King of the New York Post tweeted the following: https://twitter.com/GeorgeAKingIII/status/804444002225364993 Rowson is apparently a very respected hitting man. He comes from the Yankees organization, but he held similar titles recently in the Cubs system too. You can learn more about him in the discussion on this forum. Now all the Twins need is a first base coach. They will likely want someone who can also work with outfielders, or the catchers. That said, news came out in the last couple of days that former Twins GM Terry Ryan has accepted a job as a Special Assignment scout with the Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan, of course, has been in the organization going back to 1986, 30 years. Likewise, former GM Bill Smith, who also has given over 30 years of service time to the Twins organization, was informed recently that his job with the Twins will be over in January when his contract is complete. The Winter Meetings officially start on Monday in Washington, DC, but teams will start arriving there on Sunday afternoon. As always, there will be a ton of rumors, this GM talking to that GM or that agent, and we’ll hear a bunch of them. However, it’s always a good reminder that these meetings are actually designed to have many meetings set up, official meetings, to discuss the business of baseball. College students will be there, hoping to get an interview and latch on with an organization. Big league, minor league (affiliated or independent) will be there. But it’s those side meetings that will garner the most attention. Brian Dozier will certainly be Topic #1 for the Twins rumor mill over the coming week. Will Falvey-Levine find a taker for the second baseman who hit 42 home runs a year ago? Will there actually be a trade? And, if Dozier is traded, does that mean that Jorge Polanco moves to second base? Would the Twins then be in the market for a shortstop at the Winter Meetings? But then, it all comes down to pitching. What will the new regime’s strategy be to bring in high-end pitching? How much can they get for Brian Dozier, but also will they be active in other trades? WIll they be active in free agency? Are there even starters to find in free agency? What about the bullpen? Will they look to add more bullpen arms? Will they choose to push some of the young flame-throwers? It’s going to be an interesting week, and I would venture to guess that with their new roles, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will be among the most popular COB/GM combos for agents and executives alike to talk to. What if the Twins don’t actually make a Dozier trade or other moves during the Winter Meetings? I mean, this is one week in early December and there will be plenty of talent available next week, or the week after, or into January. So, it’s not a big deal. But the Winter Meetings provide the opportunity for in-person meetings to set the tone for deals, now, or in the near future. Also, next Thursday, the final day of the Winter Meetings, will be the Rule 5 draft. The Twins will have the first pick. With the Castro signing, they are currently at 40 men on their 40-man roster. They will either have to make a move next week to make room, or DFA someone to make room, if they want to make a pick. Maybe the best, big picture news this week was that there was a new Collective Bargaining Agreement finalized a day before the old one expired. There is a lot in our forums about the new CBA, so be sure to read more if you are interested. Here are a few more topics from our forums that you may enjoy contributing to: News came out last weekend that lefty Pat Dean, who the Twins DFAd last month, has signed with the KIA Tigers in Korea. He recently returned from Korea where he signed the deal. Adam Brett Walker, who was removed from the 40 man roster two weeks ago and claimed by his hometown Milwaukee Brewers, was DFAd by the Brewers this week. It will be interesting to see if he clears and stays in the Brewers organization, or if he is claimed by yet another team. The DFA/Limbo cycle can really stink. Logan Schafer signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. Chris Parmelee signed with the Oakland A’s. Dan Runzler signed with the Pirates. Brandon Warne gave report cards to all 40 members of the Twins 40-man roster in 2016. Find them all here. In the last week or so, we have had Q&As with several Twins minor leaguers including Travis Blankenhorn, Shane Carrier, and Jordan Balazovic. We’ve got more lined up as well. It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s #1 overall pick in the draft. Baseball America released its Top 100 High School kids this week. Sam Carlson, a 6-4 right-hander from Burnsville who is committed to Florida is on the list. Be sure to check out our sister sites, Vikings Journal and Wild Xtra as well. Finally, we are starting to get a lot of questions on the 2017 Twins Prospect Handbook. I assure you that Cody Christie, Jeremy Nygaard and I are putting in a ton of hours and hope to have it available shortly after the holidays, in early January. Feel free to discuss anything in the comments below, and check out our forums for many more topics.
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