Thursday, September 21, 2006

Links of the Day for 9/22/06

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This week’s links assembled as I try to stay out of prison

  • The Twins had a chance to pass Detroit in the Central last night, but faltered in the series finale versus Boston. Johan Santana wasn’t quite himself, allowing four runs (two earned) in five innings, walking as many as he struck out (three). Even the two unearned runs can’t be excused, as they came when, in the second with runners on first and second, Alex Gonzalez attempted to bunt the runners over. Santana first tried to field and go to third, but mishandled the ball, then fired errantly to (or, more accurately, past) first.

  • No ground was lost, however. Seattle smoked Chicago, 9-0, and Detroit fell in Baltimore 4-3. Minnesota stays one-half game behind the Tigers (tied in the loss column) and five games ahead of the White Sox.

  • From this notebook: Radke has a successful bullpen session, and Gardy wants Punto back at the hot corner next year.

  • Not everyone is headed to the playoffs, of course. Jeff Sackman runs down the teams that need to blow it up and start over.

  • And finally, I leave you with the work of Minnesota’s finest poet.

Links of the Day for 9/20/06

Powered by Intern Snarky and the Twins Geek

If you haven't done so already, you may stop by to buy your twins playoffs tickets. They're still available and cheaper than an "I'm sorry" baseball from Pete Rose. Which piece of baseball history would you rather own?

An article in the Strib earlier today suggested that you try the phone rather than the internet. If you're phonephobic like me, you picked up your tickets on the internet. The Strip article reported waits between 70-90 minutes to get the tickets online, although mine was more like 15 at 11:00 Wednesday morning. I'd be curious if you face similar waits online, please post your experience in the comments.

The Twins get back to working on that magic number today at the Fenway. The legendary baseball columnist, Peter Gammons, was in attendance last night for the first time since his aneurysm in June. Stop by and read his column- it tells the tail of his near death experience and breaks down the trade-deadline moves. You know, the important stuff.

If you need a pick me up, check out this article by Dan Shaughnessy in the Boston Globe. It praises the Twins, their front office, and the people state of Minnesota. From the article:
"They play in the image of the people who live in the Twin Cities. They are honest and hard-working and they give you a lot for your money." I appreciate his comments, but I am a Minnesotan and am neither honest nor hardworking. I will give you a lot for your money though.

A post on continued fueling America's obsession with the home life our own Mauer and Morneau, check it out . Is that a dome dog in their fridge? Aside from the oddly placed bold font, the article contains all sorts of invaluable information. Did you know that they keep Goose Island (oatmeal?) Stout in their fridge while they have Bud Light in a soda machine? How intriguing! Who do you think drinks which? I'm guessing the Canuck drinks the stout.

Finally, with the playoffs approaching, there's all kinds of coverage that you wouldn't expect. Front and center yesterday was City Pages, who has four - count 'em FOUR - stories on the Twins, including interviews with Terry Ryan and Mike Ratcliffe. In-depth stories by solid writers with access to the big guys? Read, schmead. I'm gonna digest those puppies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The 2007 GM Cheat Sheet

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Who else is going to give you your very own major league franchise for just $1.50? Only GameDay, that’s who. Terry Ryan and Carl Pohlad, eat your heart out.

Your mission (impossible), should you choose to accept it, is to create a competitive team for 2007 while keeping the total payroll under $67 million (a pretty realistic guess as to next year’s total).

We’ll get you started. We’ll fill in most of the blanks with players who will likely be back, including listing their approximate salaries, along with some assumptions, in case you want to challenge any of the core positions.

Below that, we’ll list the positions where there will be more debate, and list some of the players (and how much they cost) for each of them. You can build your team, and compare it to how Ryan does this offseason – just make sure it comes in under $67 million. (Or figure out how you’re going to get Carl to part with more.) So get those sharpened #2 pencils ready, and let’s build the 2007 Twins.

The Core

Joe Mauer$ 3.50
Justin Morneau$ 2.50
Luis Castillo$ 5.75
Jason Bartlett$ 0.40
Nick Punto$ 2.50
Michael Cuddyer$ 4.00
Torii Hunter's Buyout$ 2.50

The numbers for a lot of these players are wide estimates, since Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer and Punto are all eligible for arbitration. Castillo is under contract, so he’s absolutely back. We’re also including Hunter’s $2.5 million buyout, since he gets that whether you keep him or not. That leaves center field, left field, and designated hitter for you to play with, and we’ve spent $21.15 million.
Starting Pitching

Starter 1
Johan Santana$ 12.00
Starter 2
Francisco Liriano$ 0.40
Starter 3
Scott Baker or
Boof Bonser or
Matt Garza
$ 0.40

We’ll assume Brad Radke retires and that Liriano comes back healthy. Also that the Twins have enough faith in one of the three younger pitchers to count on them for a rotation spot next year. That leaves two spots open, and our total now is at $33.95 million.


Luis Rodriguez$ 0.40
Mike Redmond$ 1.25

Redmond’s under contract (though terms haven’t been released) and we’ll assume Rodriguez comes back as a middle infielder. That leaves at least two spots open that can be filled with veterans or farm players, and just a small bump to $35.6 million.


Joe Nathan$ 5.25
RH Setup
Juan Rincon$ 1.50
LH Setup
Dennys Reyes$ 1.00
Jesse Crain$ 0.40
Pat Neshek$ 0.40
Long MR
Willie Eyre or
Matt Guerrier
$ 0.40

Now that Reyes is in the fold, the only assumption we have to make is that the Twins will offer Rincon arbitration. We’ll also assume six bullpen spots for now, but if you’re attached to Eyre and Guerrier, you can bring one back as the 25th man. Our final tally is $42.75 million….

You’re 2/3 of the way there! Seventeen of the 25 roster spots are spoken for, and $42.75 million is spent. That leaves $24.25 million to fill eight spots. Let’s see how you want to spend it…..

The Options

CF¨ You can pick up Hunter's option year for an additional $9.5M
¨ You can offer Lew Ford arbitration for approximately $750,000
¨ You can offer Jason Tyner arbitration for approximately $1 million.
¨ A lower tier free agent, like Kenny Lofton, can probably be bought for ~$2M.
LF¨ If you trust Jason Kubel's knees, he can play here for $400,000.
¨ You can offer Lew Ford arbitration for approximately $750,000
¨ You can offer Jason Tyner arbitration for approximately $1 million.
¨ Carlos Lee or Rafael Soriano could be available for around $13 million.
DH¨ If you don't trust Jason Kubel's knees, he can play here for $400,000.
¨ It's doubtful a premiere free agent will sign to play DH, but you could target one and more the current player to the DH spot.
¨ Or acquire a mid level free agent for $2-5 million. Dmitri Young & Frank Thomas top the list.
4th starter¨ Carlos Silva's option can be picked up for ~$4M
¨ One of Bonser/Baker/Garza will cost about $400,000.
¨ Best free agents are probably Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and Mark Mulder, who might be available for around $10M.
¨ Mid level free agents include Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, for around $5M.
5th startersee above
backup IF¨ A veteran free agent can probably be lured for a little less than $1M.
¨ A farm player, like Terry Tiffee, can fill the role for around $400,000.
4th OF¨ You can offer Lew Ford arbitration for approximately $750,000.
¨ You can offer Jason Tyner arbitration for approximately $1 million.
¨ Josh Rabe could be kept for about $400,000.
¨ A veteran free agent will cost about $1M
25th spot¨ If you want to keep Guerrrier AND Eyre, one will take this spot for about $400,000.
¨ A veteran bat will cost a little less than $1M.
¨ Another middle infielder or 5th outfielder from Rochester costs $400,000.
TOTAL$Remember, it needs to be under $24.25 M unless you’re going to start searching the cushions of Carl’s couch.

How’d you do? Got that backup center fielder and shortstop you need? How about the left-handed bat off the bench your manager wants? Did you add power? Are you relying on young pitching? And, most importantly, is your boss going to be happy with how much you spent?

Yes, all around? Great. Now let Terry Ryan know, since he’ll be undergoing the same exercise in about month…

Monday, September 18, 2006

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“To be, or not to be:
that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”

So what’s your answer? Suffer the Slings and Arrows of a seven game series with the Yankees? Or perhaps, you prefer to take arms and by opposing, end the Yankees dominance over the Twins in the divisional round? Do you believe the Twins will win all three starts from Johan in the ALCS against the Yankees, or would they be more likely to win his two ALDS starts against them? Would you rather watch some combination of Boof, Garza, Silva and Baker have four opportunities to win one game against that lineup, or three?

If I were you, I’d decide quickly, because your decision will effect who you are rooting for in the huge three game series between the Tigers and White Sox starting tonight. Do you agree with Aaron Gleeman that the Twins have the Wild Card all but locked up, and thus, should hope the Tigers lose, allowing the Twins to possibly overtake them, guaranteeing they won’t see the Yankees until the ALCS? Or are you a more conservative sort, pulling for the Tigers like Mr. Baseball No. 1, and willing to trade a possible division lead for an almost guaranteed wild card spot, and a shorter series against the Evil Empire?

Or are you like me, and hate Ozzie’s hare brained antics, A.J.’s obnoxiousness and the general bitchiness of the organization and its fans so much you’d rather root for the Yankees than the White Sox? Or are so confused at my forced attempt to shoehorn Shakespeare into my post that you don’t really care who wins anymore?

Personally, I think the Twins have a better shot at winning the ALDS than the ALCS against the Yankees. The shorter the series, the less chances that talented lineup will have. Keep the sample small, and there’s less opportunity for the more talented team to differentiate itself.

So now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s time for some quick links:

  • Ever wonder what it’s like to go through Rookie Hazing? Well, luckily for you, Pat Neshek wrote about his experience.

  • Apparently, some more White Sox fans have given up on the season. Hopefully, they don’t feel it necessary to attempt to climb back on the bandwagon.

  • Baseball Tonight used to be my favorite show on television. Nowadays, I rarely even watch it, let alone plan my evenings around it. If you need to know why, CMathewson has some pretty good reasons.

  • Finally, if you’re wondering, after last night's game, the Twins Magic Number for the Wild Card is 9. Any losses by the White Sox or wins by the Twins over the final 13 games will bring the Twins that much closer to the playoffs.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Links of the Day for 9/18/06

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Hmm. Apparently, the Oakland Athletics do not enjoy losing on the road. In fact, it apparently makes them so gosh-darned mad that they return home with cold hard steely determination in their hearts to make their next opponent suffer as they have just been made to suffer. This suits the Twins just fine, as the Mighty Mighty Elephants spent the weekend laying waste to Ozzie’s boys at the Coliseum, even as the Twins pulled out a somewhat improbable 3-for-4 in Cleveland.

Your standings as the sun rises Monday morning: Minnesota sits one game back of the Tigers, and a previously unthinkable four games ahead of Chicago for the wild card. Better yet, Detroit and Chicago will spend the next three days beating each other up as the Twins take their last breather of the season and head for a three-game set with the sputtering Red Sox.

  • Speaking of the A’s, they continue to be exceedingly unhappy with their ballpark, and this weekend, they broke off negotiations for an extension of their lease. It’s no secret in the Bay Area that, if the team can’t get a new ballpark soon in Alameda County, they’re interested in moving down the road a piece to Silicon Valley, where they would become known as the San Jose IT Nerds.

  • Full disclosure: one factoid in the above item may not, technically, be true.

  • Going back to Sunday’s decisive 6-1 Twins victory in Cleveland, Intern Sam found it very hard to know what to make of Scott Baker’s performance. He certainly didn’t look good, in the sense of having dominant stuff, or in the sense of consistently hitting his spots, or in the sense of making a lot of hitters look foolish. But, um, he gave up one measly run and won a game his team wanted desperately to win. Not trying to stir anything up here. Just suggesting that if I were a manager or GM of a major league team trying to get its rotation set for the playoffs, I would have no idea how to interpret Baker’s Sunday line, or how to use it to measure his possible future usefulness.

  • When the Twins hit Fenway Park this Tuesday, they won’t have to worry about facing rookie sensation Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning. Actually, they may not have to ever worry about facing him in the ninth again. The Sox closer, who is a near shoo-in for AL Rookie of the Year, is done for the season and says that he expects to be in the starting rotation when 2007 opens.

  • Boston may have fallen well out of contention in the last few weeks, but the Twins certainly aren’t foolish enough to look past this series. Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has frequently hypnotized Minnesota hitters in the past (though not this season – he gave up four runs in 6 innings to Minnesota for a loss back in June); Boof Bonser, as well as he’s pitched lately, is no match for even a diminished Curt Schilling on paper (yes, yes, games aren’t played on paper); and of course, a trip to Fenway Park was arguably the final nail in the Twins’ coffin last season, when Torii Hunter broke his ankle and the last of the air seemed to come out of the ’05 squad. None of this is meant to suggest that the Twins shouldn’t be able to take this series. It’s just meant to say that for all the perennial talk about the mystique of Yankee Stadium, there may not be a tougher place than Fenway for a visiting team to come away with a solid series win. (Especially when Neil Diamond is really on his game…)

  • There’s certainly no love lost between sports bloggers and the mainstream sports press, especially in Minnesota, where our plethora of substandard columnists often overshadows the generally strong work turned in by many of the beat writers for both major dailies. But for Intern Sam’s money, all the Souhan and Sid blather in the world can’t dull the shine of a really good Patrick Reusse column.

    Reusse comes in for no small amount of criticism around these parts, mainly because he’s a cranky old coot who spends a lot of time appearing on talk radio and does not suffer fools gladly. But in an era when most sportswriters seem unaware that good, evocative writing is a part of their job description, Reusse continues to turn in some of the most artfully written reports to be found anywhere in America.

    His roundup column after Saturday’s victory was a case in point – no offhanded speculation, no silly attempt to create a storyline where there was none, just a well-written description of what happened on the field and in the manager’s office after the game. And in the process, we even got to read the real story regarding why Glen Perkins was suddenly called up after days of hearing that it would be someone else. That, people, is journalism, and it’s why we still need the old ink-stained wretches around.

  • ESPN’s lack of even-handedness in choosing which teams to put on its air is well established at this point. (The latest bit of evidence: the national airing of Sunday’s 863rd Yankees/Red Sox matchup of 2006 despite the total lack of any playoff implications at all on a day when at least five other games were full to bursting with playoff storylines.) As many have argued, ESPN is a business, not a public service, and there are Yankee and Sox fans everywhere, so why shouldn’t they air what more people want to see? (It’s a fair point, and lest anyone think this debate is confined to American baseball, go ask a Canadian from Alberta or Ottawa how they feel about Hockey Night in Canada’s game selection.)

  • But ESPN is also a news-gathering organization, and over the last few years, the anchors and reporters who are supposed to cover the entire American sporting world have clearly been told in no uncertain terms that the news they report should reflect the business interests of the company first and foremost. In case anyone was still in doubt as to the way ESPN handles its journalistic decisions in the SportsCenter newsroom, Fynal Cut has you covered.

  • Over in the Ozzie Guillen Is Batshit Crazy file, his Ozness apparently threw a fit this weekend upon learning that the A’s have banned alcohol from their clubhouses. On the one hand, you would suppose that the White Sox would have bigger problems to worry about at the moment. On the other hand, after the weekend they just had, wouldn’t you want a drink?

  • Finally, Intern Sam knows that the National League might as well be playing its games in Guam as far as most AL fans are concerned, but he feels compelled to report, nonetheless, that the Philadelphia Phillies (with apologies to Cubs fans, the worst team in NL history) are in serious danger of actually making the playoffs for the first time since 1993. (You remember that year, right? It was the one with John Kruk! And Lenny Dykstra! And gritty, gutty Darren Daulton! And, um… mitchwilliamsandjoecarter. yeah. so. forget we said anything.)

    More than that, the Phightin’ Phils actually have a player on the verge on hitting 61 home runs, and while it’s true that 61 isn’t the actual record anymore, it’s probably still the record for players not taking horse pills, so that’s gotta be worth something. Anyway, the Phils’ late surge sets up the possibility, however remote, that Minnesota and Philadelphia could meet in the World Series, in which case at least two members of the GameDay online family would spontaneously combust. Just so you’re all warned…