Friday, May 19, 2006

Links of the Weekend for 5/19-20/06

by Intern Sharkey

Ahoy! It’s time for another edition of the weekend links, rocking out to Broken Boy Soldiers.

  • Of course, the big news from the last few days was Kyle Lohse’s demotion. He has accepted his demotion; the Mets are a possible (likely?) trade destination. Lohse still has a glimmer of value, and the Mets are checking their watches for the end of Lima Time. It’s doubtful the Twins will be overly picky with the returns. Also in that article: the Tony Batista Experience may be coming to an end sooner than later.

  • As Steven Colbert would say, “It’s more like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”

  • Seth has all the answers. Andy Wink has a few ideas of his own.

  • Boof Bonsor, the third piece of the Pierzynski deal, will start on Sunday. Jesse of Twinkie Town gets you up to speed on the man here.

  • -The other two pieces of the AJ trade pitched well yesterday, breaking the losing streak. Option K racked up another 5 strikeouts in five innings. He only allowed two hits, but his control was spotty with three walks and multiple bounced balls. I noticed Mauer calling a lot of 3-ball change-ups; I wonder if it will take a few starts for Liriano and Chairman Mau(er) to get a feel for each other. Batista looks to be making a mad scramble to hang onto his job.

  • Looking ahead to 2007’s rotation of Santana/Liriano/Baker/Bonsor/???, the role of “???” could be played by Matt Garza, last year’s first round pick who made his AAA debut the other day. It was, as they say, a decent start. I caught an interview with Paul Molitor Friday afternoon on KFAN, and he mentioned that Garza could get a possible cup of coffee after the rosters expand in September. Drew Ely has more here.

  • Former Not-So-Little Leaguer Danny Almonte may not be all grown up, but he’s sure trying.

  • As you may have heard, outdoor baseball is coming for the 2010 season. Just awesome. As always, Shane is your go-to man for the stadia; by the time you read this, chances are the bill will be on the Governor’s desk.

  • And finally, I present the least classy thing I have ever seen.

Peace out kids; see you next week.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Links of the Day for 5/19/06

by Intern Pseudofool

The Twins played today. Ugg.

This blog is a great example of the rippling affects that trading AJ Pierzynski to the Giants. Well, Boof Bonsor has finally arrived. And Lohse well he was sent down. The Twins probably botched their handling of Lohse, and for Lohse, well, it’s not good. But a guy named “Boof” just has to succeed, right?

Bat girl’s take on Lohse going to AAA deserves it’s own link.

Mainstream Power Rankings: has us at 20th, has us at 21st, Foxsports has us at 22nd, and has at 21st, for an average of 21 points, which is three touchdowns in football.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Links of the Day for 5/17/06

by Intern Snarky

This just in... Kyle is out, Boof is in. In the pre-season, there was some speculation that Lohse could have a breakout year much likeJohn Garland had in '05. Unfortunately, the '06 Lohse is pitching likethe '06 Garland. For the time being, we'll have Bonser and Liriano inthe starting rotation and Nathan as the closer. Just how good is thatPerzynski trade looking these days?

And there was much rejoicing... sort of. Twinkie Town presents Kyle's defense, or the lack thereof.

The good news in today's Twins' notes - Liriano will be starting on Friday. The bad news- so will Castro. On a side note, Gardenhire has penciled three rookies into the starting rotation. I wonder if he's feeling okay.

In other news... Jim Caple and Kurt Snibbe of have inside information that might sway the stadium debate.

Links of the Day for 5/17/06

By Intern Jimmy

Smile, It’s Johan’s Turn: It’s always a good day when #57 takes the mound. The hottest pitcher in baseball should rectify this latest 3 game skid (editors note: knock, knock). Santana’s last 4 starts have produced 4 wins, 40 K’s, 22 hits, 3 BB’s, and 7 earned runs in 29 innings. Looks like he’s settling into his mid-season groove a little earlier than normal. No complaints here.

At Long Last: Joy, rapture and an impatient sigh of “It’s about time” as Francisco Liriano steps out of the shadows to make his long anticipated start on Friday. I’ll now refrain from more unnecessary frothing at the mouth until after Friday’s performance.

Deja Vu: Like a teenager breaking curfew a week after his grounding was lifted, Kyle Lohse did little to help his cause Tuesday night. Lasting less than 3 innings, Lohse checked back into the pitiful pitching ward with his relapse, which begs the question- could the Twins have their second demotion of the week?

Milestone Mayhem: No, this is not another platform to denounce every meaningless at-bat as Babe Ruth’s home run mark is challenged by a fraud. (Did my inner monologue just write that?) Better, this great feature allows you to track the upcoming meaningful milestones for certain Twins players. Torii Hunter closes in on career hit 1,000 while Shannon Stewart and Rondell White chase career hit 1,500. Based on their starts, Stewart appeared to be in more of a hurry to reach the milestone. But lo and behold, with his RBI single last night, White finds himself in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak in which his batting average jumped .055 points. Pushing past the Mendoza line is Rondell’s next milestone.

Sacrificing the Sacrifice: The white whale of Web Gems – the triple play – rose to the surface on Sunday with a bunt attempt gone awry, drowning the promising inning and, effectively, the game. The fact that Luis Castillo was the culprit made the bunt blunder all the more egregious. The second baseman has converted 4 of the team’s total of 6 sacrifice hits on the season. A main ingredient to the small ball formula, the sac-less Twins are mired near the bottom of the Majors (24th in fact) when it comes to advancing runners. This got me thinking, how much or little have the Twins utilized the sacrifice hit (not the sac fly) in the last 5 years as they’ve risen to the top of the AL Central? For comparison’s sake, I looked at the Twins and White Sox team stats for sacrifice hits and runs, figuring runs scored is a natural by-product of placing more runners in scoring position.

Twins (SH/Runs) White Sox (SH/Runs)
2005 42/688 53/741
2004 46/780 58/865
2003 42/801 43/791
2002 34/768 48/856
2001 25/771 63/798

Plenty of theories and (skewed) conclusions can be made from this, but it’s interesting that the White Sox, a team that certainly has relied more on the long ball, uses the sac hit more consistently than the Twins. Also of note is the relative proximity in runs scored in 2001 despite the huge difference in sacrifice totals.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

First Overall

by Will Young

With the first pick in the draft, the Calvin Griffith selects….a mess.

Twins fans are treated nightly to watching Joe Mauer. He’s young, talented and was destined for greatness ever since his selection as the first overall pick in 2001’s amateur draft. But the Twins haven’t always had such luck with the first overall pick.

After finishing with a 60-102 record in 1982, the Minnesota Twins “earned” the first choice in the 1983 June Amateur Draft. Unfortunately, Farm Director George Brophy lamented that the draft did not contain a clear top player and the overall talent level was below-average. The Twins’ brain trust compiled a list of their top six players, but pitcher Tim Belcher, from tiny Mount Vernon Nazarene College in Ohio, seemed to be the likely selection. Both Brophy and Owner Calvin Griffith agreed that they would choose a player regardless of his money demands. Of course, the notoriously frugal Griffith added that he preferred to not spend more than $100,000 to sign the pick.

The day before the draft, Griffith and the Twins had named Belcher their top target with shortstop Jeff Kunkel their alternate. Storm clouds were already gathering when Belcher said, “I’m just a junior. If they [the Twins] draft me, I could just go back to college for senior year.” As the draft loomed, the team’s first negotiating tactic was made clear: the Twins would try to convince Belcher to sign for less money than he could receive from other teams because he would be moving to the majors more quickly with the Twins.

On June 6, the Twins officially selected Belcher who promptly told the public all the right things. “I want to sign right now and get on with my baseball career,” Belcher explained. When asked about a signing bonus, Belcher added, “I’m thinking in terms of six-figures.” Twins fans who may have been nervous about selecting a pitcher from such a small school were likely relieved to hear that Baseball America’s scouting report named Belcher “the only pitcher in the draft who can really throw the ball by a hitter”.

During the next week, neither party made an effort to start serious negotiations. Belcher still did not expect to have any trouble reaching an agreement, but was confused about the delayed offer from the Twins. Brophy explained that the Twins were merely waiting for Belcher to finish arranging his legal counsel. On June 10, the Twins first began speaking with Belcher’s legal adviser, a young Chicago attorney by the name of Scott Boras. At this point, Boras was just establishing himself as a baseball agent, and was not the fearful figure he evolved into over the span of twenty years.

A week after the draft, the two parties were still offering compliments. Floyd Baker, the Twins’ scout who recommended Belcher, told Sid Hartman that Belcher was the “best pitcher I have seen in the last ten years”. Griffith announced that he was ready to pay Belcher a bonus in the area of $100,000. However, the Twins would not start negotiations with Belcher because, as Brophy explained, “We cannot get confirmation that [Scott] Boras is his agent.” Their interest in Boras’ exact arrangement with Belcher was made clear later as negotiations turned sour.

While the Twins kept publicly repeating their $100,000 offer, Belcher finally struck back. “The Twins knew what it would take to sign me before the draft,” Belcher said, “I told them I wouldn’t sign for under six-figures.” He then clarified his position when he added, “I don’t want to be the highest paid player ever picked first in the draft, but I want something between $125,000 and $160,000 – someplace in the middle.” In fact, Belcher further complained that the Twins had privately offered him just $90,000 despite having a pre-draft conversation to learn his expectations.

The front office portrayed Belcher as unfamiliar with the historic principles of the organization. Like, say, frugality. Brophy noted that Belcher had turned down more money than the Twins had ever offered another draft pick. Of course, he failed to mention that no other Twins draft pick had ever been selected first overall, and that inflation had steadily increased players’ salaries.

A month after the draft, the two sides were maintaining their initial demands. Belcher still wanted between $130,000 and $165,000 (notice the $5,000 increase in the high- and low-points of the range) while the Twins were offering just $80,000 in addition to $4,000 for him to finish his education. Belcher said that Baker, the scout, had promised an initial offer of $90,000 and they had not even fulfilled that promise. Anger began to seep into Belcher’s words as he complained, “They shouldn’t have drafted me if they didn’t want to pay what they knew I wanted to sign.”

Finally, after a month, the Twins blinked first. Both parties mutually confirmed that the Twins offer to Belcher had been increased to $110,000. Belcher still was not satisfied and said he would still wait for between $130,000 and $160,000. He also unfurled his greatest negotiating weapon – the imposition of a deadline. Belcher announced that he had begun making plans to return to college in case he did not sign within the next few days.

At the next meeting between Brophy and Boras, the Twins tried to turn the tables. They withdrew their $110,000 offer and tried to use Belcher’s deadline to their advantage. Boras told Sid Hartman that the Twins were not “going to make an offer until August 28 in order to give Belcher just three days to decide whether to accept before needing to go back to school.” Rather than blink, Boras warned the Twins that by waiting for the January draft, Belcher would have no trouble getting the money he was seeking. After all, the fourth pick from June, Eddie Williams of the Mets, had just signed for $155,000.

Next, the Twins attempted to squash Belcher’s threat of returning to school. George Brophy asserted that Belcher “may have made himself ineligible for the NCAA by hiring Boras”. Boras refuted this claim when he announced, “I am following NCAA rules as a legal adviser.” Calvin Griffith led the next attack when he announced, “I’m not going to give him big money to come down with a sore arm.” The Twins were grasping at straws to convince the public that Belcher was unreasonable. Sid Hartman pondered “One wonders why the Twins drafted him, if they weren’t going to sign him.”

As the September 1 deadline approached, both sides stood firm. Belcher maintained his desire to sign with the Twins, but was becoming more and more exasperated. Every other first round pick had signed and several had received much more than the $110,000 he was being offered. “If Griffith refuses to make an offer between $100,000 and $160,000, then we may have a stalemate,” he lamented.

Belcher postponed enrolling in classes and extended his deadline to September 5. At this point, another potential stumbling block appeared as the two parties began arguing over the method of any bonus payment – provided a bonus could be agree upon. The Twins wanted to split the bonus into thirds and offer the first third at the signing, another third in January, and the final third in November 1984. Belcher countered by asking for half upon signing and the other half early in 1984. Griffith, openly trying to sell the team at this point, was looking for any way to defer the costs to the next owner. Even Sid Hartman publicly criticized the team complaining, “It would be a serious public relations blunder if the Twins didn’t sign a player their scouts designated as the best available in the draft.”

In a last ditch effort, the Twins tried to drive Belcher away from Scott Boras. “If Belcher actually wants to sign, let him call me and tell me so. Otherwise, we just won’t sign him”, Griffith said. Belcher held his ground, continually referred the team to Boras, and refused to accept the Twins offer which steadily increased to $120,500. In a ceremonial gesture, Griffith cut the offer to $60,000 on September 15. Deciding that their situation was hopeless, the Twins proceeded to throw stones at Belcher from afar. They insinuated that his holdout was going to harm him financially because players in the January supplemental draft historically received smaller salaries than their June counterparts.

The Twins refusal to meet Belcher’s demands did not preclude at least five other teams from asking the Commissioner’s Office about the legality of trading for his rights. Seeing that other teams were salivating at the thought of picking Belcher in the January draft, Griffith attempted to prevent Belcher from entering it.

The Twins encouraged the Commissioner to investigate whether or not Belcher had begun taking fall classes. If he had, according to NCAA rules, Belcher would not be eligible to be drafted for another 120 days or well after the January date. Scott Boras vehemently denied that Belcher had taken a class. Furthermore, Boras maintained that since Mount Vernon Nazarene College was an NAIA school, he did not need to follow the NCAA rules. Sid Hartman cut to the heart of the story when he wrote, “Most Major League teams would fight to sign the number one pick in the country. The Twins, not wanting to spend the money, try to get off the hook by making him ineligible.” After some investigating, Belcher was allowed to enter the January 1984 draft, and the Twins were left empty-handed.


Belcher was chosen by the New York Yankees in the January draft. He finished with a 146-140 record and an ERA just two percent better than the league average, but he also pitched for 14 years in the majors, and earned over $26 million. Scott Boras refined his negotiating skills and draft strategy until he perfected the technique with J.D. Drew. Less than a year after the negotiations, Calvin Griffith sold the Twins to Carl Pohlad, citing the rising costs of running a franchise as a reason to exit the sport. George Brophy admitted that fall that the Twins should have selected their other choice – University of Oklahoma pitcher Roger Hayward (whose entire major league career consisted of 78.2 innings and a 4-8 career record).

Finally, eighteen picks after Tim Belcher, the Boston Red Sox drafted Roger Clemens.

After growing up in Richfield, Will Young currently lives in Washington, DC where he a Master's Degree candidate in Sport Management at the George Washington University and blogs about the Twins at

The previous story is in the May issue of GameDay

Monday, May 15, 2006

Links of the Day for 5/16/06

by Intern Thomas

Once again, I get to provide the links of the day after a massive buzzkill of a weekend. It started so promisingly too, with a convincing victory over the White Sox on Saturday. And then, well, then we found out that maybe Liriano was breathing down the wrong starter’s neck. Gardenhire is finally calling on the Cisco Kid and his team leading 12.9 k’s per nine to take the mound at the beginning of a game.

  • Things might have been different on Sunday, however, if Gardenhire had pulled Silva before he imploded in the Fourth Inning. Frightwig wants to know what you think was going through Gardy’s head while Silva was letting the game get out of hand.

  • In case you did miss the game on Sunday, some members of the Twins, including Shannon Stewart chose to celebrate Mother’s Day by using pink bats, and all the players wore pink wristbands. The Hardball Times chose to celebrate in a different manner—they collected advice from mothers of baseball notables.

  • Finally, the Twins family has lost one of its original members, as Jim Lemon passed away on Sunday. He was an outfielder for the Senators when they moved to the Twin Cities in 1961, and played in Minnesota until he was traded away in 1963. Minnesota baseball fans missed his prime, however, as his last good season came in 1960.